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THE HIGHER TEACHING 


OF 

SHAKESPEARE. 


BY 

LOUIS H. VICTORY. 


* 



LONDON: 

ELLIOT STOCK,* 62, PATERNOSTER ROW. 
1896. 


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GEORGE W. RUSSELL 

CiE-X 

FRIEND, POET, AND MYSTIC. 


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PREFACE. 


“ And thou, who didst the stars and sunbeams 
know, 

Self - school’d, self - scann’d, self - honour’d, self- 
secure, 

Didst tread on earth unguess’d-at.—Better so! 

All pains the immortal spirit must endure, 

All weakness which impairs, all griefs which bow, 
Find their sole speech in that victorious brow.” 

Matthew Arnold. 


I T seems to me that in the numer¬ 
ous volumes which have ap¬ 
peared, and are constantly 
coming forward, having for their 
subject the works of Shakespeare, 
it has been, perhaps, too much the 
custom to give prominence to disser¬ 
tations upon the sources of the plots, 


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PREFACE 


viii 

to more or less trivial emendations 
of the text, to considerations of 
historic surroundings, and to other 
matters dealing mainly with form 
and technique; while the profound 
“ soul-wisdom ” with which Shake¬ 
speare’s pages are pregnant has been 
frequently relegated to the back¬ 
ground. 

In other words, matters of “ form ” 
have been unduly magnified, while 
the “ soul ” which animates the 
form has been neglected. I think 
that this should not be so, for the 
body without the soul is dead; 
and if we are to estimate the true 
value of Shakespeare’s plays, and to 
gain the greatest advantage from 
their perusal, assuredly we must con¬ 
sider them chiefly in their higher 
aspect, looking for the Higher Teach¬ 
ing which they convey. We must 
examine them from a moral and 
psychological standpoint. Deep in 


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PREFACE 


ix 


the form, • we must scrutinize the 
soul. 

In the following pages this is 
what I have endeavoured to ac¬ 
complish. Setting aside considera¬ 
tions of minor consequence, I have 
searched for and, as I think, found 
the broad, unmistakable, and alto¬ 
gether consistent, moral and psycho¬ 
logical basis upon which each play, 
as it seems to me, has been inde¬ 
structibly erected. 

In no one of Shakespeare’s plays, 
viewed in this light, have I been 
able to discover any fundamental 
inconsistencies; and it is obvious 
that in this light only may we fully 
appreciate the marvellous wealth be¬ 
stowed upon us by him who may be 
justly called the King of the world’s 
Poets. Having regard to the form, 
and to the mode of address of these 
papers, it may be necessary to state 
that they were originally lectures. 



i C x !e 





CONTENTS. 


PAGE 


MACBETH ..... I 
KING LEAR . . . . l6 

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE . . 31 

ROMEO AND JULIET . *45 

TIMON OF ATHENS . . . 56 

THE TEMPEST . * 7 * 

OTHELLO . . . . .86 

CYMBELINE . . .99 

HAMLET . . . . .116 

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR . 1 32 

AS YOU LIKE IT . . . I4I 

KING HENRY VIII. .... 156 

JULIUS CiBSAR . . . .169 

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW . 1 83 



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ax 

MACBETH. 


T HE play of “ Macbeth” may 
be regarded as a revelation of 
conscience. 

To those who study “ Macbeth” 
carefully, conscience is unveiled and 
shown forth as a working spiritual 
essence. It can be seen by the soul- 
eyes—not with a continuous vision, 
but in clear and vivid flashes, like the 
scintillations of a brilliant hung upon 
the neck of blackest Night. This 
marvellous revelation of conscience 
appears to me to be the salient feature 
of “ Macbeth ”—the outshining jewel 
of all the jewels in which the play 
abounds. 

True it is that many great interr 

i 


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2 


MACBETH. 


preters of Shakespearian text do not 
seem to recognise in “ Macbeth ” 
this outsoaring merit, displaying, as 
it does, profound psychological in¬ 
sight. Some there are who do recog¬ 
nise that merit of this nature does 
exist, but they account it a subor¬ 
dinate merit; while others do not 
seem to acknowledge it at all. One 
eminent critic goes so far as to say 
that the whole foundation of this 
tragedy depends upon witchcraft. 
Here are some extracts from his 
voluminous observations: 

“ In the time of Queen Elizabeth 
was the remarkable trial of the witches 
of Warbois, whose conviction is still 
commemorated in an annual sermon 
at Huntingdon. But in the reign of 
King James, in which this tragedy 
was written, many circumstances con¬ 
curred to propagate and confirm this 
opinion. The king, who was much 
celebrated for his knowledge, had, 
before his arrival in England, not 


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MACBETH. 


3 


only examined in person a woman 
accused of witchcraft, but had given 
a very formal account of the practices 
and illusions of evil spirits, the com¬ 
pacts of witches, the ceremonies used 
by them, the manner of detecting 
them, and the justice of punishing 
them, in his dialogues of ‘Daemon* 
ologie,’ written in the Scottish dialect* 
and published at Edinburgh. This 
book was, soon after his accession, 
reprinted at London; and as the 
ready way to gain King James’s 
favour was to flatter his speculations, 
the system of ‘ Daemonologie * was 
immediately adopted by all who 
desired either to gain preferment or 
not to lose it. Thus the doctrine of 
witchcraft was very powerfully incul¬ 
cated. ... The infection soon reached 
the Parliament, who in the first year 
of King James made a law by which 
it was enacted that ‘ If any person 
shall use any invocation or conjura¬ 
tion of any evil or wicked spirit; (2) or 
shall consult, covenant with, enter¬ 
tain, employ, feed, or reward any evil 
or cursed spirit to or for any intent or 
purpose; (3) or take up any dead 


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MACBETH . 


man, woman, or child out of the grave 
—or the skin, bone, or any part of 
the dead person to be employed or 
used in any manner of witchcraft, 
sorcery, charm, or enchantment; 
(4) or shall use, practise, or exercise 
any sort of witchcraft, sorcery, charm, 
or enchantment ; (5) whereby any 
person shall be destroyed, killed, 
wasted, consumed, pined, or lamed in 
any part of the body; (6) that every 
such person being convicted shall 
suffer death. . . .’ Thus, in the time 
of Shakespeare, was the doctrine of 
witchcraft at once established by law 
and by the fashion. . . . Upon this 
general infatuation Shakespeare might 
be easily allowed to found a play.” 

To my mind the author of these 
remarks in thus characterizing “ Mac¬ 
beth ” as a tragedy founded upon, 
and consisting of, witchcraft or en¬ 
chantment, entirely misconceives and 
misconstrues Shakespeare’s use of the 
supernatural element in this play. 
Why did Shakespeare resort to witch- 


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MACBETH. 


5 


craft ? He certainly did not do so in 
order merely to introduce such scenes 
of demonology or sorcery as would 
appeal to passing fashion, or to the 
gross instincts of unenlightened 
groundlings. 

His motive was deeper and far 
better than that. It was this: He 
introduced the witches as the em¬ 
bodiment (if I may be permitted to 
use the word in their regard) of the 
thing temptation. 

By thus giving form to temptation, 
he was enabled to display its action 
upon man in a more vivid and appeal¬ 
ing manner than could otherwise have 
been possible. When I hear the 
voices of the weird sisters, therefore, 
they come to me, not as the whisper¬ 
ings of witchcraft, but as the mutter- 
ings—swept from out the darkness of 
the world—of ubiquitous temptation. 
Witchcraft, therefore, to me is not 
the leading motif of “ Macbeth it 




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MACBETH . 


serves the subordinate end of the 
vehicle and representation of tempta¬ 
tion. 

Now, while I feel convinced that 
revelation of conscience is the salient 
characteristic of “ Macbeth,” I am 
none the less satisfied that the main 
moral conveyed by Shakespeare in 
this play is that retribution inevitably 
and relentlessly follows upon the heels 
of crime. Macbeth is a type of a 
very commonplace character. We 
meet Macbeths at every turning upon 
the long road of life; and so it is 
that this particular play should, and 
doubtless does, whip the consciences 
of a very large mass of mankind. 

And what is Macbeth’s character ? 
He is, at the opening of the play, a 
man whom the influence of fickle 
circumstances may raise to greatest 
heights of moral nobility, or may 
sink to blackest recesses of moral 
depravity. He is a man so weak 



MACBETH. 


7 


from the moral standpoint that 
he is 

A pipe for Fortune’s finger 
To sound what stop she please. 

He is ambitious for the goods and 
honours of this world; he hungers 
after them, although he does not 
hunger more, perhaps, in this respect 
than most men do. It is true that 
Macbeth wishes to be righteous. But 
why does he so wish ? Simply that 
he may gain the goodwill and the 
golden opinions of his fellow-men, 
that he may pose before the world as 
a man sans reproche . 

If Macbeth had been righteous for 
the sake of righteousness—if he re¬ 
membered that the minutest workings 
of mind and soul are bare before the 
eyes of God; if he sought to be 
righteous before God, regardless of 
what men might think — then all 
would have been well with him. But 
herein he failed; and so he became 


8 


MACBETH . 


an easy prey to the serpentine coil of 
temptation. For, in shirking any 
accountability to Heaven for his 
actions, in “jumping the life to 
come,” and in seeking only to appear 
righteous in the eyes of men, he was 
open to commit any deed in the 
annals of criminality provided that 
he could keep his crimes hidden from 
the gaze of humanity. How many 
men there are in the world like this! 
Do we not see them tempted, and 
led on by the tempter ? Do we not 
see them in the coil of temptation, 
too weak morally to shake themselves 
free therefrom ? And when they 
think that men's eyes (they do not 
think of God’s) may possibly be 
brought to see their iniquities, do we 
not hear them cry out, “ Retro me, 
Sathana!” in the terror of their dismal 
apprehension ? 

Yes, we hear that cry, which is 
nothing more than the terror-wrung 


MACBETH. 


9 


lip-repentance of a moment—the ex¬ 
pression of an instantaneous dread of 
worldly retribution ; and then we see 
the victims going on, on, and falling 
downwards, downwards, towards the 
deepsof perdition. Under certain con¬ 
ditions, human beings, thus morally 
weak, could, at the first suggestion 
of temptation, be led easily to its 
rejection, and kept walking in the 
path of higher righteousness. Mac¬ 
beth is a remarkable instance of this 
truth. It is as follows that tempta¬ 
tion—poetically conveyed by Shake¬ 
speare, as I hold, in the persons of 
the witches—first dawns upon the 
mind of Macbeth : 

Macb. Speak, if you can;—what are you ? 

First Witch . All hail, Macbeth ! hail to thee, 
thane of Glamis ! 

Sec. Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, 
thane of Cawdor! 

Third Witch. All hail, Macbeth ! that shalt be 
king hereafter. 

In this way temptation suggests 
itself. A little later it commences to 



IO 


MACBETH. 


wind itself, like a serpent, around its 
victim. Thus, when Macbeth has 
learned that he is actually “ thane of 
Cawdor,” he soliloquizes: 

This supernatural soliciting 
Cannot be ill; cannot be good:—if ill, 

Why hath it given me earnest of success, 
Commencing in a truth ? I am thane of Cawdor: 
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion 
Whose homd image doth unfix my hair, 

And make my seated heart knock at my ribs, 
Against the use of nature ? Present fears 
Are less than horrible imaginings. 

My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, 
Shakes so my single state of man, that function 
Is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is 
But what is not. 

* * * * * - * 

If chance will have me king, why, chance may 

crown me, 

Without my stir. 

At the end of Scene 4, Act I., 
Macbeth is fairly within the coil of 
temptation. Meanwhile, Lady Mac¬ 
beth has become acquainted (by 
means of letters received from her 
husband) with the nature of the 
temptation that has overtaken him; 
and this leads to a consideration of 


MACBETH . 


II 


the certain conditions—as already 
alluded to—under which the man 
Macbeth could have been led to a 
rejection of this particular tempta¬ 
tion; and that, too, without much 
difficulty. Had Lady Macbeth essayed 
the comparatively easy task of grasp¬ 
ing the serpent and casting it off from 
Macbeth, she would, undoubtedly, 
have snatched him from the brink of 
gaping perdition, and preserved him 
to righteousness. But, alas! the 
weaknesses of Macbeth were precisely 
those of his wife; she, too, was am¬ 
bitious and morally weak. She, too, 
could have been led for either good 
or evil; and the real want in the life 
of both the husband and the wife 
was the influence of a human being 
morally strong . The only difference 
between Macbeth and his wife was, 
that he was full of worldly misgiving 
as to his wrong-doing, while she dis¬ 
dained the entertainment of such 



12 


MACBETH . 


misgiving. Lady Macbeth was a 
woman determined to sustain her 
husband in all his ambitious projects, 
good or ill. So even when he con¬ 
templates murder, she resolves to 
help him; and speaking of Macbeth 
(knowing his weakness), she says: 

Hie thee hither, 

That I may pour my spirits in thine ear, 

And chastise with the valour of my tongue 
All that impedes thee from the golden round, 
Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem 
To have thee crown’d withal. 

Despite her determination to help 
Macbeth, Lady Macbeth—conscious 
of her own natural womanly repug¬ 
nance to blood-spilling—utters the 
following adjuration: 

Come, you spirits 

That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here. 

And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full 
Of direst cruelty ! make thick my blood, 

Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse ; 

That no compunctious visitings of nature 
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between 
Th* effect and it ! Come to my woman’s breasts, 
And take my milk for gall, you murdering 
ministers, 




S|**I»* 





MACBETH. 


*3 


Wherever in your sightless substances 
You wait on nature’s mischief! Come, thick 
night, 

And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, 

That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, 
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, 
To cry, “ Hold, hold !” 

And when Macbeth comes to her, 
she whets the dull edge of his purpose 
thus: 

Macb. My dearest love, 

Duncan comes here to-night, 

Lady M. And when goes he hence ? 

Macb . To-morrow, as he purposes. 

Lady M. O ! never 

Shall sun that morrow see ! 

Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men 
May read strange matters. To beguile the time, 
Look like the time ; bear welcome in your eye, 
Your hand, your tongue : look like the innocent 
flower, 

But be the serpent under’t. He that’s coming 
Must be provided for ; and you shall put 
This night’s great business into my despatch ; 
Which shall to all our nights and days to come 
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom. 


So it is that Lady Macbeth not 
only encourages her husband’s evil 
desire, but actually urges him on to 
that crime which is the root and 


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MACBETH. 


cause of his ultimate ruin. It is 
more particularly from the moment 
of Duncan’s murder that the process 
of remarkable conscience revelation 
is apparent in this play; from that 
time on to the period of retribution 
we can only marvel at what our soul- 
eyes see in this respect. 

There are numerous links that 
connect “ Macbeth ’.’ with some of 
Shakespeare’s other plays. I shall 
content myself with mentioning 
two of these. Macbeth resembles 
Richard III. in that both men hew 
their way through human blood to 
the crown. Macbeth resembles 
Hamlet, inasmuch as both men are 
filled with misgiving : the former has 
misgivings with regard to his future 
on earth, the latter with regard to 
the world to come. 

In fine, Macbeth is a sublime per¬ 
formance. It can claim an equal 
share with any of the poet’s other 


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MACBETH. 


15 


works, of that merit which won from 
Abb6 Roux, in his “ Pen&fes,” the 
following encomium: “ Shakespeare 
is greater than history; he is as great 
as poetry; and he is, alone, sufficient 
for the literature of a nation.” 



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KING LEAR. 


T RUTH—the realities of exist¬ 
ence—standing high over all 
the falseness and all the 
mockeries of life; Truth, divested 
of any of the garments of insin¬ 
cerity, stripped of all things that 
may hide its light; Truth, which, 
when revealed in humanity, shows 
beggar rich as lord; Truth, which 
sweeps mere mundane, kingly majesty 
before it, even as the storm drives the 
fallen leaves; Truth, without which 
even Love itself would be rank—this 
is the gem that shimmers before our 
soul-eyes in “ King Lear.” All philo¬ 
sophy, all word-loaded theories of 
life — of human joy and human 





KING LEAR . 


17 


suffering—axe hurried away at the 
laying bare of overpowering Truth. 
Study “ Lear ” in all its bearings, 
and mark how all philosophy will 
vanish before the hard truth of the 
helplessness of earthly life. I have 
no hesitation in writing that, as a 
concentrated word - picture of the 
moral intrinsicality of man convulsed, 
“ King Lear ” is powerful out of all 
comparison with any other work of 
English literature ; and it will, in all 
probability, remain so to the end. 
To anatomize as Shakespeare does 
h$re is to accomplish a work that 
might well be pronounced to be more 
than human: it shows him to be a 
master of the whole metaphysics of 
humanity. 

This anatomy of man’s moral in¬ 
trinsicality convulsed, I take to be 
Shakespeare’s premeditated method 
of showing the sublimity of simple 
Truth. But in order, in the first 

2 


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KING LEAR. 


instance, to present this said convul¬ 
sion truly before us, it was necessary 
to find a just cause for such convul¬ 
sion. 

Shakespeare obviously recognised 
the fact that, to bring about such an 
extreme effect, a cause should be 
found for the purpose of extreme 
power. And what cause was it that 
he selected ? It was the most power¬ 
ful cause that could be selected for 
his special object, namely, the rend¬ 
ing of the strongest bonds existing 
between us—the bonds of Kindred 
Love. 

And how did he accomplish the 
rending of those bonds of kindred 
love ? By a visible working of un¬ 
reasoning impetuosity in the first 
place, and of filial ingratitude in the 
next. 

Lear, as we look upon him first, is 
a king of some majesty, and of strong 
natural affection; yet, as we see 


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KING LEAR. 


19 


(Act I., Scene 1), he is capable of 
being carried away by his rash, un¬ 
reasoning impetuosity to the doing 
of deeds that are freighted with 
bitterest consequences. 

Notice how he treats the love —the 
sincere love —of Cordelia, after he has 
conferred riches bountifully upon her 
flattering loveless sisters: 

Now, our joy, 

Although our last, not least; to whose young 
love 

The vines of France, and milk of Burgundy, 

Strive to be interess’d ; what can you say, to 
draw 

A third more opulent than your sisters ? Speak. 
Cor. Nothing, my lord. 

Lear. Nothing ! 

Cor. Nothing. 

Lear. Nothing will come of nothing: Speak 
again. 

Cor. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave 
My heart into my mouth : I love your majesty 
According to my bond ; nor more, nor less. 

Lear. How, how, Cordelia ! mend your speech 
a little, 

Lest you may mar your fortunes. 

Cor. Good my lord, 

You have begot me, bred me, lov’d me: I 
Return those duties back as are right fit, 

Obey you, love you, and most honour you. 


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20 


KING LEAR. 


Why have my sisters husbands, if they say, 

They love you all ? Haply, when I shall wed, 
That lord, whose hand must take my plight, shall 
carry 

Half my love with him, half my care, and duty : 
Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters, 

To love my father all. 

Lear. But goes thy heart with this ? 

Cor . Ay, my good lord. 

Lear. So young, and so untender ? 

Cor. So young, my lord, and true. 

Lear. Let it be so: thy truth then be thy dower; 
For, by the sacred radiance of the sun. 

The mysteries of Hecate, and the night, 

By all the operation of the orbs, 

From whom we do exist, and cease to be, 

Here I disclaim all my paternal care, 

Propinquity and property of blood, 

Ana as a stranger to my heart and me 
Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barbarous 
Scythian, 

Or he that makes his generation messes 
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom 
Be as well neighbour’d, pitied, and reliev’d, 

As thou my sometime daughter. 


Here Kent—Kent the true, the loving, 
and the faithful—interposes on Cor¬ 
delia’s behalf, in the cause of Truth; 
and mark his reward at the hands of 
rash, impulsive Lear: 

Five days we do allot thee for provision 
To shield thee from disasters of the world ; 


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KING LEAR. 


21 


And on the sixth to turn thy hated back 
Upon our kingdom : if, on the tenth day follow¬ 
ing, 

Thy banish’d trunk be found in our dominions, 
The moment is thy death. Away ! By Jupiter, 
This shall not be revok’d. 

Lear settles all that he possesses 
upon his false daughters—Regan and 
Goneril—and their husbands. He 
only retains 

The name, and all the additions to a king ; 

The sway, revenue, execution of the rest, 

Beloved sons, be yours : which to confirm, 

This coronet part between you. 

So far, in the main, do we see the 
operation of unreasoning impetuosity ; 
and henceforth are we shown its 
chain of dread consequences. 

Its immediate consequence is the 
ingratitude of Regan and Goneril— 
an ingratitude which reminds one of 
the action of the young redbreasts 
that kill the parent birds as soon as 
they find themselves strong enough 
to do so. Indeed, with regard to 
these two daughters—not alone their 


22 


KING LEAR . 


ingratitude, but in all their actions— 
they prove that if the devil might 
breathe a soul in woman, their two 
souls were breaths from hell. Not 
alone do these ingrates—when they 
get power—insult and heap unwon 
vituperations upon their father ; but 
they turn him adrift (old, pitiable, 
and helpless as he is) to wander 
whither he may, in the fury of a 
night that has its parallel only in the 
fury of the moral throes by which 
Lear himself is shaken. It is a night 
upon which— 


Things that love night 

Love not such nights as these ; the wrathful skies 
Gallow the very wanderers of the dark, 

And make them keep their caves. Since I was 
man, 

Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder ; 
Such groans of roaring wind and rain, I never 
Remember to have heard : man’s nature cannot 
carry 

The affliction nor the fear. 

This is the night that poor Lear 
(only a man at best) finds himself an 


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KING LEAR . 


2 3 


outcast, unthanked, nay, martyred, 
for his previous generosities*. 

And, assuredly, it would be difficult 
to find a figure so touching, in play 
or story, as is Lear; more particularly 
from Act III., Scene 2, to the end. 
Where, in all literature, I ask, is 
there such a conception as the fourth 
scene of this third act ? Look at 
the frantic mien, and listen to the 
mad mutterings, of this “ man more 
sinned against than sinning,” this 
man maddened by ingratitude. 

Listen to the truths shivered forth 
from the trembling lips of the cling¬ 
ing, faithful boy—the Fool. Watch 
the assumed insanity of the other 
outcast, Edgar; listen to his chatter¬ 
ing teeth and to his cry—“Tom’s 
a-cold ”—in order to hide the grief 
that pierces him. Observe the un¬ 
swerving fidelity of the wronged but 
tender-hearted Kent, a man who in 
answer to Lear’s question, “ Wilt 



24 


KING LEAR. 


break my heart ?” can say, with 
strictest truth, from his heart of 
hearts, “ I’d rather break mine own.” 
Look at Gloucester swayed by pity. 
Then listen to the awful and out- 
sounding fury of the thunder; realize 
if you can the deluge-like fall of rain, 
and look with dazzled eyes at the 
grimly-vivid flashing of the “ sheets 
of fire.” Observe all these things, 
and then refrain, if you are able, from 
exclaiming with Coleridge, “ Oh, 
what a world’s convention of agonies 
is here!” And mark closely how 
Truth—the hard reality of Life, in 
this instance shorn of every affecta¬ 
tion—is revealed, and sheds a piercing 
light over all. 

The main cause of Lear’s madness 
has been almost as much disputed 
as the madness itself of Hamlet. 
Why this should be so I do not 
know. 

The chief disputants upon this 


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KING LEAR. 


25 


important point may be divided into 
two sections, viz.: (1) those who 
argue that Learns insanity is chiefly 
the outcome of his loss of kingly 
power and property; and (2) those 
who contend that his loss of reason 
is caused by the cruelty and ingra¬ 
titude of his daughters. I think it 
can be demonstrated from the text 
that the gruesome image floating 
before Lear’s distorted brain-vision 
is the conduct of Regan and Goneril 
—their “ filial ingratitude ” and their 
cruelty. 

When we first see him upon the 
heath defying, unbonneted, the light¬ 
ning and the thunderbolts, his body 
in a paroxysm of emotion, his eyes 
glaring wildly and vacantly, and his 
long white hair, torn by his reckless 
hands and tossing in the wind —then 
he has no thought of his lost royalty; 
it is his daughters’ ingratitude that 
haunts him: 


26 


KING LEAR , 


And thou, all-shaking thunder, 
Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world ! 

Crack nature's moulds, all germens spill at once, 
That make ingrateful man ! 

♦ * * * * 

Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters: 

I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness ; 

I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children. 
You owe me no subscription : then let fall 
Your horrible pleasure ; here I stand, your slave, 
A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man. 

But yet I call you servile ministers, 

That will with two pernicious daughters join 
Your high-engender’d battles 'gainst a head 
So old and white as this. O ! O ! ’tis foul! 

Then turn to the hovel scene on 
the heath. It is the same spectre 
that looms before his unseated reason. 
He exclaims : 

When the mind’s free, 

The body’s delicate : the tempest in my mind 
Doth from my senses take all feeling else, 

Save what beats there—filial ingratitude. 

Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand, 

For lifting food to't ?—But I will punish home 
No, I will weep no more.—In such a night 
To shut me out !—Pour on, I will endure.— 

In such a night as this 1 O Regan, Goneril 1 
Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all,— 
O ! that way madness lies ; let me shun that; 

No more of that. 

When Lear is confronted with the 
assumed madness of Edgar, he also 


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KING LEAK 


27 


evidences the figure that sways his 

mind. He questions thus : 

0 

Lear. What ! have his daughters brought him 
to this pass !— 

Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give them 
all? 

Fool. Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had 
been all shamed. 

Lear. Now, all the plagues that in the pendulous 
air 

Hang fated o’er men's faults, light on thy 
daughters! 

Kent. He hath no daughters, sir. 

Lear. Death, traitor 1 nothing could have sub¬ 
dued nature 

To such a lowness but his unkind daughters. 

Is it the fashion, that discarded fathers 
Should have thus little mercy on their flesh ? 
Judicious punishment ! ,’twas this flesh begot 
Those pelican daughters. 

Later in the same act (Scene 6) he 
refers to his daughters as “ she- 
foxes”; and of Goneril he says, 
“ ’Tis Goneril. I here take my oath 
before this honourable assembly she 
kicked the poor king, her father”; 
while he speaks of Regan thus: “ Then 
let them anatomize Regan; see what 
breeds about her heart. Is there any 




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KING LEAR . 


cause in nature that makes these hard 
hearts ?” 

Again we find Lear (Act IV., 
Scene 7) saying to Cordelia : 

Your sisters 

Have, as I do remember, done me wrong : 

You have some cause, they have not. 

These instances I hold to be suffi¬ 
cient evidence to warrant the belief 
that Lear’s madness was the outcome 
of Regan’s and Goneril’s conduct 
towards him ; while it will be found, 
by analysis of the text, that the loss 
of kingdom had, comparatively , a very 
trivial effect upon him. If, in the 
end, Lear’s madness forgets the first 
wrongs that his daughters have done 
him, it is only because a still greater 
terror rests upon him, namely, the 
death, so brutally brought about, of 
Cordelia, the true and faithful. Then 
he can only realize that she is dead : 
all things else to him are as nothing. 

And, assuredly, that scene wherein 


55 





KING LEAR . 


29 


we behold breaking-hearted, broken- 
witted Lear bearing the strangled 
Cordelia in his quivering arms, is 
one that must bring tears to the eyes 
of all who can realize it. ’Tis then 
that the strain upon his heart-strings 
becomes too great, and he yields his 
weary spirit to the light of Heaven ; 
and, as his spirit passes, a voice 
whispers to us, if we will but heed 
it—whispers the deathless Truth : 
Human pomp and glory and royalty 
are fading mockeries; a king of the 
world is only a man, and man is a 
very weak creature indeed. 

I wish here to call attention to the 
fact that Lear’s grief is a tearless 
agony, and is thus intensified. Tear¬ 
less grief is ever the worst that man 
can suffer. To weep is to relieve the 
heart very considerably of the trouble 
that oppresses it; but when grief has 
passed beyond the relief of tears— 
when the tear - passages afford no 


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30 


KING LEAR . 


soothing flow — then, truly, does 
sorrow gnaw the heart twofold. 

It is something of a puzzle in 
heredity that Cordelia should be the 
sister of Regan and Goneril; but it 
is a puzzle with which we are con¬ 
fronted every day. Here is how 
Kent, in the play, disposes of the 
matter: 

It is the stars, 

' The stars above us, govern our conditions ; 

Else one self mate and mate could not beget 
Such different issues. 

There appears to me to be only 
one theory before the world that 
offers a reasonable explanation of this 
common problem, and that theory is 
the Theosophical one of re-incarna- 
tion. 



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THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. 


E VEN as I conceive the crown¬ 
ing merit of “ Macbeth ” to 
be its revelation of Con¬ 
science, so do I conceive the crown¬ 
ing merit of “ The Merchant of 
Venice” to lie in its revelation of 
Chance. He who carefully reads 
“ The Merchant ” must needs receive 
the lesson (whether he be conscious 
or not of such reception) that it 
is a vanity of vanities to set our 
hopes upon any undelivered child 
of Time: he is taught that such a 
child may never be delivered, or that 
it may be delivered dead. 

He who studies this play will be 
taught the salutary lesson, always to 


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32 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE . 

hesitate before expecting—never to 
make one step forward before being 
sure that the ground is solid whereon 
he wishes to tread. 

Everywhere in “ The Merchant ” 
we are upbraided by an “ if ”; we are 
at every step brought to a conscious¬ 
ness of the fact that, no matter how 
we plot and plan, manage and 
manipulate, Chance may step in at 
any moment to frustrate the dearest 
designs of our hearts. 

This sovereign note is sounded at 
the outset, for have we not in Act I., 
Scene i, Antonio’s uncertainty as to 
the safety of his 

Argosies with portly sail, 

Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood ? 

Have we not got, in the same scene, 

Bassanio’s suspense regarding the 

possibility of his gaining 

The means 
To hold a rival place 

for the hand of Portia ? 


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THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. 33 


Again, in this scene (in a small 
detail, and in a manner almost un- 
noticeable) the veil is drawn from 
the many-wrinkled and Brobding- 
nagian brow of Chance. Salarino, 
referring to his leave-taking of An¬ 
tonio, says: 

I would have stayed till I had made you merry, 
^worthier friends had not prevented me. 

In Scene 2 of the same act, we 
have the same predominance of over¬ 
hanging Chance in Portia’s doubt 
and suspense as to which of her 
lovers may become her husband. 
Then, in Scene 3, Shylock touches 
the same note, when, referring to 
Antonio, he says: 

His means are in supposition. He hath an 
argosy bound to Tripolis, another to the Indies; 
I understand, moreover, upon the Rialto, he hath 
a third at Mexico, a fourth for England, and other 
ventures he hath squandered abroad. But ships 
are but boards, sailors but men: there be land- 
rats and water-rats, water-thieves and land-thieves 
—I mean pirates; and then there is the peril of 
waters, winds, and rocks. The man is, notwith¬ 
standing, sufficient. Three thousand ducats :—I 
think I may take his bond. 

3 


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34 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. 

And again, 

If you repay me not on such a day; 
and, 

If he should break his day, what should I gain 

By the exaction of the forfeiture ? 

But, not to dally over too many 
minor instances, let us come to 
Jessica, who is likewise made a mouth¬ 
piece for the revealing of Chance. 

Thus she speaks: 


O Lorenzo 



And thus: 

Farewell; and if my fortune be not crost, 

I have a father, you a daughter, lost 

The chief scenes, however, upon 
which I ground my conclusion that 
revelation of Chance is the tran¬ 
scendent note of this play, are those 
of the caskets and that of the trial. 

The laying bare of Chance is so 
obvious in the Casket scenes that I 


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THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. 35 

need not pause to analyze it. The 
paramount episode, nevertheless, in 
this regard, is the wondrous Trial 
scene, wherein Chance would seem, 
to the observer, to trifle in a subtle 
manner with the very souls of men. 

It will thus be seen that this match¬ 
less revelation is progressive—pro¬ 
gressive in its intensity. 

And now, having shown the pre¬ 
dominance of Chance revelation in 
“ The Merchant of Venice,” I shall 
endeavour to point out that which I 
take to be the lay sermon, as it were, 
which Shakespeare set before himself 
to convey in this particular play. 

What was this lay sermon ? It 
was, to my mind, nothing less than 
an appeal to Christian England for 
mercy towards the persecuted Jews. 

About the time that “The Mer¬ 
chant ” was written, public feeling in 
England ran very high against the 
Jews. 


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36 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. 


Almost innumerable incidents could 
be cited showing the atrocious atti¬ 
tude which was taken by men calling 
themselves Christians in regard to 
the Outcast Nation. 

I shall merely give one instance: 
Mr. H. C. Beeching, referring to a 
paper written by a Mr. S. L. Lee 
(which, I think, was printed in the 
Gentleman's Magazine about 1880) on 
“The Original of Shylock,” makes 
the following remarks: 

“ He [Mr. Lee] tells the story 
of a certain Dr. Roderigo Lopez, a 
Jew, the queen’s physician, who was 
executed in 1594 on the charge of 
being bribed by the King of Spain to 
poison the queen. Mr. Lee calls 
attention to the excitement which the 
doctor’s trial and execution made in 
London. ‘ No less than five official 
accounts of Lopez’s treason, with 
many semi-official pamphlets, were 
prepared for publication to keep the 
facts well before the public mind.’ 


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THE MERCHANT OF VENICE . 37 

From the diary of Henslowe, the 
stage-manager, we learn that the 
plays most frequently produced in 
the latter half of the year were ‘ The 
Jew’ and ‘ The Jew of Malta’—four 
representations of the one and fifteen 
of the other being chronicled between 
April and the following February. 
Mr. Lee’s essay shows very clearly 
that, although there were Jews in 
England, and some even holding high 
positions, before their formal re¬ 
admission by Cromwell, yet the 
popular prejudice against them, when 
anything occurred to arouse it, was 
not different in kind from the temper 
which invented the story of the pound 
of flesh. The Solicitor-General Coke 
at Lopez’s trial ‘laid especial stress 
on the fact that Lopez was a Jew.’ 
‘ This perjured and murdering traitor 
and Jewish doctor,’ he said, ‘is worse 
than Judas himself.’ His judges, too, 
spoke of him, ‘that vile Jew.’ ‘On 
the scaffold he was interrupted with 
the cruelest jeers, and as the bolt 
fell the people shouted, ‘He is a 
Jew!’ 


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38 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. 


In this line of thought, it is worthy 
of note that the name of Lopez’s 
chief rival was Antonio. 

Numerous other episodes occurred 
at this period in England, showing 
the people’s hatred of the Jew; and 
from this state of affairs I argue that 
Shakespeare (a man of deep philan¬ 
thropy and broadest sympathies) 
penned “The Merchant of Venice ” 
as a protest against such vile treat¬ 
ment of any form of humanity, no 
matter how despicable. 

I very willingly grant that Shylock 
is drawn very black; but he is not 
one whit more black than surround¬ 
ing Christianity had forced him to 
become. 

Shylock’s avarice is racial and 
hereditary, and therefore hardly 
blameworthy in the individual; and 
his cruelty and spirit of revenge are 
fully justified “ by Christian ex¬ 
ample.” The following dialogue gives 


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THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. 39 


us a fair idea of the treatment which 
the Jew receives at the hands of the 
Christian: 

Shy. Signior Antonio, many a time and oft, 

In the Rialto, you have rated me 
About my moneys, and my usances : 

Still have I borne it with a patient shrug; 

For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe. 

You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, 

And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine, 

And all for use of that which is mine own. 

Well then, it now appears, you need my help : 

Go to then ; you come to me, and you say, 

“ Shylock, we would have moneys you say so : 
You, that did void your rheum upon my beard, ‘ 
And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur 
Over your threshold : moneys is your suit. 

What should I say to you ? Should I not say, 

“ Hath a dog money ? Is it possible, 

A cur can lend three thousand ducats ?” or 
Shall I bend low, and in a bondman’s key. 

With bated breath and whispering humbleness 
Say this:— 

“ Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last; 
You spurn’d me such a day; another time 
You call’d me dog ; and for these courtesies 
I’ll lend you thus much moneys ?” 

Antonio’s reply, being very signifi¬ 
cant, should be carefully noted. He 
does not deny his ill-treatment of the 
Jew; he emphasizes it: 


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40 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. 


Ant. I am as like to call thee so again. 

To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too. 

If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not . 

As to thy friends ; for when did friendship take 
A breed of barren metal of his friend ? 

But lend it rather to thine enemy ; 

Who, if he break, thou mayst with better face 
Exact the penalty. 

Which of these men, I ask, is the 
more to be despised ? Antonio, un¬ 
doubtedly. Who could blame Shy- 
lock for any revenge he might take ? 
If he had not spirit enough to resent 
and revolt against such insult, then, 
indeed, were he more to be scorned. 

Shylock’s appeal in Act III., 
Scene i, requires attention to-day (as 
a plea for justice for the Jews) as it 
did when it first saw the light; for 
are not the Jews persecuted now as 
then ? Here is Shylock’s pleading : 

He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a 
million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my 
gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, 
cooled my friends, heated mine enemies: and 
what’s his reason ? I am a Jew. Hath not a Tew 
eyes ? hath not a Jew hands ? hath not .a Jew 
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? 


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THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. 41 


fed with the same food, hurt with the same 
weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by 
the same means, warmed and cooled by the same 
winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you 
prick us, do we not bleed ? if you tickle us, do we 
not laugh ? if you poison us, do we not die ? and 
if you wrong us, shall we not revenge ? If we are 
like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. 
If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility ? 
Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should 
his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, 
revenge. The villany you teach me, I will 
execute ; and it shall go hard but I will better the 
instruction. 

The Jew's argument here is, with¬ 
out doubt, unanswerable. Christianity 
can never justify itself when it adopts 
an attitude of barbarity; and that its 
attitude towards the Outcast People 
has been, and is in many countries, 
one of barbarity, few, if any, will 
deny. 

In this connection let me here set 
forth the words of that admirable 
German, Heinrich Heine. He wrote: 

“ Wandering dream-hunter that I 
am, I looked round everywhere on 
the Rialto to see if I could not find 


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42 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. 

Shylock. But I found him nowhere 
on the Rialto, and I determined to 
seek my old acquaintance in the 
Synagogue. The Jews were then 
celebrating their Day of Atonement. 
. . . Although I looked all round the 
Synagogue, I nowhere discovered the 
face of Shylock. I saw him not. 
But towards evening, when, accord¬ 
ing to Jewish belief, the gates of 
heaven are shut, and no prayer can 
then obtain admittance, I heard a 
voice, with a ripple of tears that were 
never wept by eyes. It was a sob 
that could come only from a breast 
that held in it all the martyrdom 
which, for eighteen centuries, had 
been borne by a whole tortured people. 
It was the death-rattle of a soul sink¬ 
ing down dead-tired at heaven’s gates. 
And I seemed to know the voice, and 
I felt that I had heard it long ago, 
when, in utter despair, it moaned out, 
then as now, ‘ Jessica, my child!’ ” 

With the exceptions of Shylock 
and Portia, the characters in “ The 
Merchant ” are not by any means 


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THE' MERCHANT OF VENICE . 43 

minute delineations, they are merely 
adumbrations; and Shakespeare, I 
take it, did not wish that they should 
be otherwise. They are, no doubt, 
real so far as they are exhibited to 
us; but they are like figures floating 
before our eyes through a muffling 
mist—now near and almost vivid, 
now distant and dim. 

Portia is the most learned and 
intellectual of Shakespeare’s women. 
She is shrewd and philosophic; she 
is quick and witty; she is accom¬ 
plished in law and language. 

She approaches that type of woman 
which, in these days, is labelled 
“ blue-stocking.” 

Yet she is more womanly than the 
average “ blue-stocking ” would, per¬ 
haps, wish to be thought. 

I do not lean towards “ blue- 
stockingism ”; and, notwithstanding 
all the desirable womanly qualities 
attributable to Portia, I am a thou- 




44 THE MERCHANT OF VENICE . 

sand times more strongly drawn to 
Shakespeare’s Rosalind than to the 
“ Lady of Belmont.” 

In “ The Merchant,” as in all of 
Shakespeare’s plays, we are brought 
into clbse contact with the ontology 
of man; and if, as M. Renan has 
stated, Wisdom is meditation on 
Life, assuredly wisdom can be 
gathered from the pages of Shake¬ 
speare in wonderful abundance. 

It was George Meredith, I think, 
who said that “ our souls grow up to 
the light; we must keep our eyes on 
the light and look no lower.” 

No man ever did more to enable us 
to keep our eyes on the light than 
did William Shakespeare. 


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ROMEO AND JULIET . 

I N looking for the moral in “ Romeo 
and Juliet,” I find the play to be, 
essentially and above all else, a 
lay sermon from the text—“Out of 
Evil cometh Good.” This is the 
broad moral which it bears. While 
it deprecates Evil, it shows us clearly 
that even from the greatest human 
catastrophe—Death—true life may 
spring—the life of Peace and Love. 
It tells us, too, that human sacrifice, 
even to the sacrifice of life, may be 
absolutely necessary for the sup¬ 
planting of Evil by Good. There 
is immeasurable soothing power in 
“ Romeo and Juliet.” Is your life 
overshadowed by grief? Are you 


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46 ROMEO AND JULIET , 

deep in sorrow ? Is your life a seem¬ 
ing sacrifice ? Do you think God a 
cruel, blind Avenger, to send you 
bitter troubles that you know you do 
not deserve ? You answer, Yes. But 
had you perused “ Romeo and Juliet ” 
with a thinking mind, you would know 
the true answer to the problem of 
human suffering: you would have 
learned that (to use the words of 
Amiel) “ in bitterness there is sweet¬ 
ness; in affliction, joy; in submis¬ 
sion, strength; in the God who 
punishes, the God who loves. To 
lose one’s life that one may gain it, 
to offer it that one may receive it, to 
possess nothing that one may conquer 
all, to renounce self that God may 
give Himself to us. How impossible 
a problem, and how sublime a reality! 
No one truly knows happiness who 
has not suffered; and the redeemed 
are happier than the elect.” This is 
what “ Romeo and Juliet ” teaches 


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ROMEO AND JULIET. 


47 


us; and is it not, in truth, the self¬ 
same lesson that was breathed across 
the world from dark Calvary’s height ? 
—the conquering of Evil by Sacrifice. 
The Evil to be overcome in “ Romeo 
and Juliet ” is the deadly enmity 
existing between the Capulets and 
the Montagues—an enmity so deadly 
that it requires for its eradication a 
remedy as drastic as the hate is per¬ 
nicious. At the very outset the note 
of strife is sounded, in the conversa¬ 
tion between Sampson and Gregory, 
two servants of the house of Capulet: 

Sam. Gregory, on my word, we'll not carry 
coals. 

Gre. No, for then we should be colliers. 

Sam, I mean, an we be in choler, we’ll draw. 

Gre. Ay, while you live, draw your neck out of 
the collar. 

Sam. I strike quickly, being moved. 

Gre. But thou art not quickly moved to strike. 

Sam. A dog of the house of Montague moves 
me. 

And so on, in similar words of 
hate, until Abraham and Balthasar 
(of the house of Montague) come on 


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4 » 


ROMEO AND JULIET. 


the scene; and then they pick a 
quarrel in an almost childish fashion: 

Abr. Do you bite your thumb at us, sir ? 

Sam. I do bite my thumb, sir. 

Abr, Do you bite your thumb at us, sir ? 

Sam. (to Gregory), Is the law on our side if I 
say Ay? 

Gre, No. 

Sam. No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, 
sir ; but I bite my thumb, sir. 

Almost immediately Benvolio 
enters, and Tybalt a little later. 
Then come citizens ; then old 
Capulet and Lady Capulet; then old 
Montague and Lady Montague. A 
deadly encounter is imminent, and 
is only averted by the sudden ap¬ 
pearance on the scene of Escalus, 
the prince, who for the time quells 
the strife : 

You, Capulet, shall go along with me ; 

And, Montague, come you this afternoon, 

To know our further pleasure in this case, 

To old Free-town, our common judgment-place. 

Once more, on pain of death, all men depart. 

But cankerous Hate is not to be 
so easily stamped out, as by a mere 


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ROMEO AND JULIET . 49 

command. As well might you call 
upon the wind to halt, or upon the 
rapidly-flowing stream. Long-nur¬ 
tured Hate is, in the hearts of men, 
like water boiling in the bowels of 
the earth: if it be suppressed now, 
it will burst forth in little time again, 
unless some power, over-ruling in its 
mightiness, be brought into counter¬ 
action. So it is with the hate between 
these two princely houses. It works 
apace, bringing in its course the 
slaying of Mercutio and Tybalt, and 
the banishment of Romeo. Side by 
side, however, with this pernicious 
Hate, we see that Love at work, that 
Good which is to conquer Evil, and 
to shine down with transcendent 
brilliancy upon the wreck of Evil, 
even as the moon may calmly beam 
upon a wreckage upheaved from the 
ocean’s recent fury. Yes, we see this 
Love; we see, too, the sacrifice of 
young lives—the only sacrifice, be it 

4 


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50 


ROMEO AND JULIET. 


noted, which, in this instance, could 
be sufficient for the conquest of Evil, 
and the triumph of Good. Over the 
piteous spectacle of the dead lovers, 
and the dead Paris, Capulet and 
Montague are united: 

Prince (to Capulet and Montague). Capulet! 
Montague ! 

See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate. 

That Heaven finds means to kill your joys with 
love; 

And I, for winking at your discords too. 

Have lost a brace of kinsmen :—all are punished. 

Cap. O brother Montague ! give me thy hand : 
This is my daughter’s jointure; for no more 
Can I demand. 

Mon. But I can give thee more : 

For I will raise her statue in pure gold ; 

That while Verona by that name is known 
There shall no figure at such rate be set 
As that of true and faithful Juliet 

Cap. As rich shall Romeo by his lady lie ; 

Poor sacrifices of our enmity ! 

Prince. A glooming peace this morning with it 
brings; 

The sun for sorrow will not show his head. 

Go hence to have more talk of these sad things ; 
Some shall be pardoned, and some punished : 

For never was a story of more woe, 

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo. 

Thus do we see the uses of the 
innocent sacrificed. Thus are we 


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ROMEO AND JULIET. 51 

taught that “ Out of Evil cometh 
Good.” 

***** 

I shall now consider the “ Love- 
passion” as exhibited in “Romeo 
and Juliet.” Some Shakespearian 
critics find that the love of Romeo 
and of Juliet is a spiritual love; and 
that the indelicacy—or perhaps I 
should even say the indecency—of 
the Nurse’s views of Love and Mar¬ 
riage is meant as a contrast whereby 
we may see all the more vividly the 
spiritual nature of Romeo’s and 
Juliet’s love. 

I have carefully analyzed the text 
in this respect, with the result that I 
can find no essential or fundamental 
difference between the Nurse’s theory 
and the Lovers’ practice. Love in 
both instances is mere animal passion 
—the veriest sensuality. The differ¬ 
ence (which is not fundamental) is 
this : that the Nurse’s Love is low 


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52 


ROMEO AND JULIET . 


and coarse, while the Lovers’ Love 
is refined and pure. It is not to be 
imagined because the Love of Romeo 
and Juliet is the instrumentality by 
which Hate is to be transformed into 
Love through sacrifice, that it even 
partakes of spirituality. Such a con¬ 
clusion would be obviously false. So 
far as the bare evidence of the play 
is concerned the Nurse’s Love and 
the Lovers’ Love is the self-same 
book in different binding. Romeo’s 
and Juliet’s Love, in its deepest in¬ 
tensity, can permit them to regard 
each other only as mortal paradises 
of sweet flesh . But, notwithstanding 
that Shakespeare does not here reveal 
a spiritual Love, we all know that he 
was keenly conscious of its existence, 
its reality. He knew that, in this 
world, there is Love and Love. 
There is sensual Love, and there is 
spiritual Love—the one a common 
passion of humanity, the other a 


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ROMEO AND JULIET. 


53 


transcendent attribute which rarely 
reveals itself. The reason why the 
one is common and the other rare is 
because sensuality is easily mated, 
whereas the soul may pass through 
the world, in its mortal encasement, 
without once meeting its spiritual 
affinity. Not the least notable feature 
of “ Romeo and Juliet ” is the “ ex¬ 
quisite fancy ” by which the play is 
pervaded. The Queen Mab speech 
delivered by Mercutio, in this regard, 
is delightful. Scene 2, Act II., be¬ 
tween Romeo and his “ sweet saint,” 
sparkles with richest fantasy, while 
such brilliant strokes as the following 
are common : 

Come, night; come, Romeo, come, thoa day in 
night; 

For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night 
Whiter than new snow on a raven’s back.— 
Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-browed 
night, 

Give me my Romeo : and, when he shall die, 
Take him and cut him out in little stars, 


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54 ROMEO AND JULIET . 

And he will make the face of heaven so fine 
That all the world will be in love with night, 

And pay no worship to the garish sun. 

Again, it may be noted that, as a 
picture of Youth , “ Romeo and Juliet ” 
stands unrivalled in literature : it is, 
in truth, a word-photograph of Youth. 
It brings out, in just proportion, the 
mad impetuosity, the indomitable 
will, the recklessness, the poetry, the 
love, and all those other attributes 
which we know to belong to Youth. 
Above all other attributes, however, 
it shows us Youth’s quick and almost 
infinite faculty for the heart-felt ap¬ 
preciation of joys when they offer, 
and for the keen feeling of sorrows 
when they oppress. 

In conclusion, if you would spend 
some hours of intellectual enjoyment, 
take Up and study “ Romeo and 
Juliet.” Your ears will be charmed 
by the caressing music of its words ; 
your eyes will see the sweetest forms 


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ROMEO AND JULIET . 55 

that eyes could rest upon; you will 
walk in fancy ’neath the bluest, 
sunniest sky that ever arched above 
fair Verona, and you will breathe the 
balmiest air of charming Italy. 


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TIMON OF ATHENS. 

I N “ Timon of Athens ” there axe 
three moral teachings, any one 
of which is as prominent as the 
other; it shows the turpitude of the 
Ingrate; it portrays the falsity of the 
Misanthrope’s position; and it de¬ 
monstrates the evil of Intemperance. 
These three teachings are inter¬ 
mingled, they overlap one another 
throughout. With regard to the 
first, the song of Amiens in “ As 
You Like It ” conveys an exact idea, 
in brief, of the more vivid and more 
detailed teaching of “ Timon of 
Athens ” in this respect: 

Blow, blow, thou winter wind. 

Thou art not so unkind 
As man’s ingratitude; 


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TIMON OF ATHENS. 


57 


Thy tooth is not so keen, 

Because thou art not seen, 

Although thy breath be rude. 

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky, 

That dost not bite so nigh 
As benefits forgot: 

Tho* thou the waters warp, 

Thy sting is not so sharp 
As friend remembered not 

This is the lesson, imparted with 
poetic intensity; and, assuredly, the 
poet could set himself no nobler task 
than the setting forth of the baseness 
of Ingratitude ; for, is it not true that 
the evils arising from “ man’s in¬ 
gratitude” are almost beyond com¬ 
putation ? Ingratitude is, in truth, a 
monster of “ sightless substance ” 
from whose shoulders spring the 
Protean heads of Evil. These are no 
lightly-written words—they are the 
outcome of long and serious thought; 
and he who broods upon Ingratitude 
even as he has encountered it in his 
own personal experience, not to 
review it as it is presented to him by 


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TIM ON OF ATHENS. 


extrinsic experience, by Metaphysics 
or by Anthroposcopy—will readily 
grant that this Evil can be the pro¬ 
genitor of others beyond count. 
Hence the importance and the use¬ 
fulness of Shakespeare’s present moral 
tuition. As important and as useful 
is it, indeed, as any other moral 
tuition that is impressed upon us 
throughout his entire plays. In 
order that we may all the more fully 
realize the hatefulness of €t man’s in¬ 
gratitude,” Shakespeare opens his 
play with a vivid portrayal of the 
generous, all-giving Timon, and of 
his honey-tongued and sycophantic 
followers — men whom the world 
would more generally term “ friends.” 
Timon sets no bounds to his gene¬ 
rosity. A few instances of the nature 
of his bounty will serve. We have, 
first of all, his lavish patronage of 
Poet, Painter, Jeweller, and Mer¬ 
chant. We see, too, how he in- 




TIMON OF ATHENS. 


59 


stantly buys the release of his 
“ friend ” Ventidius : 

Tim. Imprisoned is he, say you ? 

Ser. of Ven. Ay, my good lord: five talents is 
his debt; 

His means most short, his creditors most strait: 
Your honourable letter he desires 
To those have shut him up; which failing him 
Periods his comfort. 

Tim. Noble Ventidius ! Well; 

I am not of that feather, to shake off 

My friend when he most needs me. I do know him, 

A gentleman that well deserves a help— 

Which he shall have: I’ll pay the debt, and free 
him. 

Ser. Your lordship ever binds him. 

Tim. Commend me to him ; I will send his 
ransom ; 

And, being enfranchised, bid him come to me. 

’Tis not enough to help the feeble up, 

But to support him after. 

Then we are shown his charity 
towards Lucilius and the Old 
Athenian’s daughter. In these set¬ 
tings forth we are given demonstra¬ 
tion that Timon— 

Outgoes 

The very heart of kindness. 

He pours it out; Plutus, the god of gold, 

Is but his steward : no meed but he repays 
Sevenfold above itself: no gift to him 
But breeds the giver a return exceeding 
All use of quittance. 


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TIM ON OF ATHENS. 


Then, see how he feasts and enter¬ 
tains his lordly friends! And see 
how he bestows gifts upon them! 
Of this latter, here is an instance: 

Tim. Now I remember, my lord, you gave 
Good words the other day of a bay courser 
I rode on : it is yours, because you liked it. 

I wish it to be particularly noted 
that Shakespeare’s method of showing 
Timon’s present leading character- 
trait is precisely the method adopted, 
towards the same end, by Victor 
Hugo in his works (notably in the 
greatest novel ever penned by man, 
“ Les Miserables ”), and by Hall Caine 
in one, at least, of his intrinsically 
meritorious fictions, viz., “ The 
Deemster.” The method to which 
I refer is that of bringing out any 
certain traits of character by means 
of a series of brief but striking 
episodes, instead of having recourse 
to the common method of merely 
enumerating, or causing a character 


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TIMON OF ATHENS . 61 

to enumerate, the virtues and vices 
of the particular being whose traits 
it is desired to make known. Each 
of these opening episodes in “ Timon 
of Athens” is intensely vivid; each 
as it comes is like the instantaneous 
lightning, flashed through the black¬ 
ness of night upon a white-sailed 
craft that rocks upon the sea; each 
succeeding flash gives us more know¬ 
ledge—swift knowledge—of the thing 
we look upon. After Shakespeare 
has thus graphically presented to 
our mind-eyes Timon, the lavishly 
generous man, he proceeds to reveal, 
by a similar process, the baseness of 
Ingratitude. 

When Timon finds himself a very 
beggar, he builds upon the loves of 
his friends: 

Tim. (to Flavius ). Canst thou the conscience lack. 
To think I shall lack friends ? Secure thy heart; 
If I would broach the vessels of my love, 

And try the argument of hearts by borrowing, 

Men and men’s fortunes could I frankly use 
As I can bid thee speak. 


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TIMON OF ATHENS . 


Flav. Assurance bless your thoughts ! 

Tim . And, in some sort, these wants of mine 
are crowned, 

That I account them blessings ; for by these 
Shall I try friends. You shall perceive how you 
Mistake my fortunes. I am wealthy in my friends. 

Forthwith Timon puts his belief 
to the test by sending messengers to 
these “ friends ” to ask their assist¬ 
ance. Flaminius goes to Lucullus. 
But what is Lucullus’ answer? It 
is this: 

Thy lord’s a bountiful gentleman, but thou art 
wise, and thou knowest well enough, although 
thou comest to me, that this is no time to lend 
money, especially upon bare friendships without 
security. Here’s three solidaires for thee ; good 
boy, wink at me, and say thou saw’st me not. 
Fare thee well. 

Flam . Is’t possible, the world should so much 
differ, 

And we alive that lived ! Fly, damned baseness, 
To him that worships thee. 

[ Throwing away the money . 

Lucul. Ha ! now I see thou art a fool , and Jit 
for thy master . [Exit. 

To Lucius, Servilius goes. We 
know Lucius to be much indebted 
to Timon; we also know him to be 


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TIM ON OF ATHENS. 


63 


rich. But mark his lying reply to 
Servilius* request for “ so many 
talents ” : 


What a wicked beast was I, to disfurnish myself 
against such a good time, when I might ha* shown 
myself honourable ! how unluckily it happened 
that I should purchase the day before for a little 
part, and undo a great deal of honour !—Servilius, 
now, before the gods. I am not able to do’t; the 
more beast, I say. I was sending to use Lord 
Timon myself, these gentlemen can witness; but 
I would not, for the wealth of Athens, I had done 
it now. Commend me bountifully to his good 
lordship; and I hope his honour will conceive the 
fairest of me, because I have no power to be kind 
—and tell him this from me, I count it one of my 
greatest afflictions, say, that I cannot pleasure such 
an honourable gentleman. 

Lucius, we see, is but the “ disease 
of a friend”; and, as the following 
extract shows, Sempronius is no 
better: 


Sent, (to Timon's servant). Have Ventidius and 
Lucullus denied him ? 

And does he send to me ? . . . 

It shows but little love or judgment in him : 

Must I be his last refuge ? His friends, like phy¬ 
sicians. 

Thrice give him over: must I take the cure upon 
me? 


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64 TIMON OF ATHENS. 

He has much disgraced me in it; I'm angry at 
him, 

That might have known my place. I see no sem>e 
for it, 

But his occasions might have wooed me first; 
****** 

I'd rather than the worth of thrice the sum, 

He had sent to me first, but for my mind's sake; 
I’d such a courage to do him good. But now 
Return, 

And with their faint reply this answer join; 

Who bates mine honour, shall not know my coin. 

Thus, in chief, are we shown the 
baseness of Ingratitude; and in sub¬ 
sequent scenes we are clearly in¬ 
structed with regard to the evils 
that follow in its trail. We are also 
shown Ingratitude, and its conse¬ 
quences, in the case of Alcibiades. 

* * * * 

I shall now proceed to point out 
how “ Timon of Athens ” portrays 
the falsity of the Misanthrope’s posi¬ 
tion. 

When Timon becomes aware of 
“ man’s ingratitude,” he shrinks from 
the society of men ; he abandons the 


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TIM ON OF ATHENS. 


65 


haunts of men, whom he now hates; 
and—his soul warped, his heart well- 
nigh frozen within him—he lives in 
the secluded woods upon rough roots. 
Here he is— 

Rapt, and cannot cover 
The monstrous bulk of this ingratitude 
With any size of words. 

But, assuredly, Timon’s is a sbrry 
revenge. It is, indeed, no revenge, 
save that self - persecution may be 
termed such. And here we see in 
Timon’s life in the wilderness a very 
complete and striking picture of the 
falsity of the Misanthrope’s position. 
If Timon had manfully elected to 
combat the world in all its harsh¬ 
ness, to make some bold stroke for 
Fortune, as Alcibiades did, he would 
have been round with his faithless 
“ friends ”; he would have com¬ 
manded their respect instead of 
earning their raillery; he would have 
shown himself a man of spirit and of 

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66 


TIMON OF ATHENS. 


commendable will; he would, doubt¬ 
less, have established a high position, 
and won respect, and gone down to 
his grave an honoured and an 
honourable man. But, alas! in his 
affliction his weakness made him 
misanthropic; henceforth he lived a 
life of secluded self-persecution, and 
he died, as he lived, an object more 
to be pitied than scorned. So it is 
with all misanthropes; they show 
their hate of mankind by punishing 
themselves. Is not the position an 
obviously false one? and does not 
Shakespeare here reveal its falsity ? 
With regard to the third moral 
tuition which I find in “Timon of 
Athens,” it is apparent all through 
the play; it bubbles up; and it 
glistens from beginning to end even 
as we may see the sunshine shimmer¬ 
ing upon the wave-crested waste. 
Temperateness is unknown to Timon, 
and this weakness—this want of 


TIMON OF ATHENS . 


67 


Temperateness—we are shown to be 
the main cause of his worst evils. 
Apemantus, the cynic, tells Timon 
precisely what his great fault is when 
he says: “ The middle of humanity 
thou never knowest, but extremity 
of both ends.” Timon is impulsive, 
passionate, excessive; Reason has no 
part in controlling his actions, and 
so he is carried swiftly to Parnassian 
heights of contentment, or to Cim¬ 
merian depths of despondency. In 
his nature there is no middle course; 
and he is without strength to grapple 
with Fate. The instances which I 
gave at the outset in illustration of 
Timon’s generosity, serve also to 
exemplify his Intemperateness; for, 
although the ends for which he gave 
were sometimes apparently com¬ 
mendable, they were undoubtedly— 
considering Timon’s means—always 
examples of extravagance and excess. 
In the opening scene he is excessive 


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68 


TIMON OF ATHENS. 


in generosity. When he first learns 
of “ man’s ingratitude,” he is exces¬ 
sive in rage, even to madness; as he 
is also, at the mock feast (Act III., 
Scene 6), when he hurls water and 
dishes, as well as bitter imprecations, 
at the heads of his false friends. He 
is excessive, too, in wrath, when, 
from without the walls of Athens, he 
“falls a-cursing like a very drab, a 
scullion,” and pours a very torrent of 
blackest curses upon the city and 
upon all Athenians. Excessive is he, 
likewise, to the end, living in the 
wilderness, where from his heart he 
can say to Alcibiades: 


I am Misanthropos, and hate mankind. 
For thy part, I do wish thou wert a dog, 
That 1 might love thee something. 


This, assuredly, is the utmost and 
most unreasonable excess of Hate. 
What a burning appeal this play is 
against Intemperance! how glow- 


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TIM ON OF ATHENS. 69 

ingly it demonstrates the evil 
thereof! 

* * * * 

Apemantus, the churlish philo¬ 
sopher, is a very striking personality 
in these pages. It is difficult to 
account for his cynicism. For my 
part, I think that it is the outcome 
of deep thought upon the phenomena 
of human existence. His philosophy 
may be unwelcome, but it is unques¬ 
tionably true. Here, for instance, is 
a piece of it: 

Tim. How likest thou this picture, Apemantus ? 

Apem. The best, for the innocence. 

Tim. Wrought he not well that painted it ? 

Apem. He wrought better that made the painter; 
and yet he’s but a filthy piece of work. 

Flavius, Timon’s steward, is a 
type of manly faithfulness and true 
nobility: he stands like a spirit of 
good in contrast with the lordly in¬ 
grates of the play. 

It will be noted that no sweet- 


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70 


TIM ON OF ATHENS. 


natured, lovable woman appears to 
win our loves throughout this 
tragedy. We only see in Phrynia 
and Timandra two foul - mouthed 
fallen women—real, very real, and 
very pitiable. 

The more I study Shakespeare, the 
more do I marvel at the almost 
supernatural power of the man—that 
“ omnipotent phantasy ” in which 
“ there is compensation even to him 
who is destroyed by it; for in the 
very perception of genius—in its 
love, penetrating to all stars, its 
sight which indicates existence, and 
hails the golden age—there is a pure 
joy, an exceeding sense of glory, 
which can raise and transfigure it 
above the sufferings of earth.” 


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THE TEMPEST. 

I F the offspring of a hag be littered 
upon a wild, uninhabited island, 
and be there left damless after 
the lapse of some years ; and if, at 
the age of twelve years, this hag-born 
creature be brought into the sub¬ 
jection of a cultured, high-born father 
and daughter who have just come 
to the said island—“ By Providence 
divine ” ; and if the father teach lan¬ 
guage to, and train, this whelp— 
what, then, will be the psychological 
aspect presented by such a being ? 
This, you will say, is a very difficult, 
a very profound metaphysical pro¬ 
blem. You will agree that not one 





72 


THE TEMPEST. 


man in ten—ay, twenty thousand— 
could solve it accurately or with pre¬ 
cision. You will agree, too, that he 
who is capable of offering a true solu¬ 
tion of this ontological proposition 
must needs be such a one as can 
“ by means of an unlimited compre¬ 
hension of all the manifestations of 
Nature, by an appreciative sympathy 
with the tastes and the thoughts of 
-those who differ from themselves in 
-temperament, by a kind of intuition 
into the sources, growth, and effect 
of feelings which they have them¬ 
selves not actually felt, by means of 
those transcendent, imaginative gifts, 
rightly named inspiration , so vividly 
and correctly describe all the pro¬ 
cesses of nature, that we can never 
discriminate what they relate from 
their own personal experience from 
what they invent by throwing them¬ 
selves into the position of others.” 
Shakespeare was pre-eminently en- 


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THE TEMPEST . 


73 


♦ 

dowed with, these qualities of genius; 
and with regard to “ The Tempest ” 
it may be truly said that, in the in¬ 
dividuality of Caliban, Shakespeare 
has given us a minutely accurate 
solution of the problem with which 
I started—a solution involving a 
psychological anatomy as profound 
and as absolutely true, in its way, 
as that of “ Hamlet ” or “ Lear.” 
It appears to me that this true pre¬ 
sentment of the creature Caliban is 
the outshining excellency—among 
many excellencies—of “ The Tem¬ 
pest.” 

Let us, first of all, consider the 
appearance extern of Caliban. His 
age, at the time of action of the play 
is, so far as we can learn, twenty- 
four years; and from the text we 
may glean that he is a grovelling 
creature covered with long hair, re¬ 
sembling more the quadruped than 
the biped in his action, accustomed 


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74 


THE TEMPEST . 


to yarr and blatter inhumanly when 
annoyed, and to spring, monkey¬ 
like, from ground to tree, from branch 
to bough. We can imagine him, 
too, sitting contentedly by himself, 
and—with blinking, satisfied eyes— 
feasting upon berries, upon a crab 
or a jay, which he has sought out or 
snared, and which he picks to dainty 
morsels with his “ long nails.” So 
much for Caliban’s appearance ex¬ 
tern. As to his psychological aspect, 
the text, carefully studied, is a very 
remarkable revelation. The first 
scene between Prospero and Caliban 
(Act I., Scene 2)—how profound it is 
in this respect! 


Pros. We’ll visit Caliban, my slave, who never 
Yields us kind answer. 

Mir. ’Tis a villain, sir, I do not love to look on. 
Pros. But, as ’tis, 

We cannot miss him ! he does make our fire, 
Fetch in our wood, and serves in offices 
That profit us.—What ho ! slave ; Caliban ! 

Thou earth, thou ! speak. 

Cal. (within). There’s wood enough within. 


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THE TEMPEST. 75 

Pros. Come forth, I say, there’s other business 
for thee. 

Come, thou tortoise ! when! 

****** 

Thou poisonous slave, got by the devil himself 
Upon thy wicked dam, come forth ! 

Enter Caliban. 

Cal. As wicked dew as e’er my mother brushed 
With raven’s feather from unwholesome fen. 

Drop on you both ! a south-west blow on ye, 

And blister you all o’er ! 

Pros. For this, be sure, to-night thou shalt have 
cramps, 

Side-stitches that shall pen thy breath up; urchins 
Shall, for that vast of night that they may work, 
All exercise on thee : thou shalt be pinched 
As thick as honeycomb, each pinch more stinging 
Than bees that made them. 

Cal. I must eat my dinner. 

This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother, 

Which thou tak’st' from me. When thou earnest 
first, 

Thou strok’dst me, and mad’st much of me; 
would’st give me 

Water with berries in’t; and teach me how 
To name the bigger light, and how the less, 

That burn by day and night: and then I loved thee, 
And showed thee all the qualities o’ the isle, 

The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place, and 
fertile. 

Cursed be I that did so !—All the charms 
Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you ! 

For I am all the subjects that you nave, 

Which first was mine own king ; and here you sty 
me 

In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me 
The rest o’ the island. 


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76 


THE TEMPEST. 


Pros . Thou most lying slave, 

Whom stripes may move, not kindness: I have 
used thee, 

Filth as thou art, with human care: and lodged 
thee 

In mine own cell, till thou didst seek to violate 
The honour of my child. 

Cal. O ho ! O ho !—I w r ould it had been done ! 
Thou didst prevent me; I had peopled else 
This isle with Calibans. 

Pros . Abhorred slave, 

Which any print of goodness wilt not take, 

Being capable of all ill—I pitied thee, 

Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each 
hour 

One thing or other: when thou didst not, savage, 
Know thy own meaning, but wouldst gabble like 
A thing most brutish, I endowed thy purposes 
With words that made them known ; but thy vile 
race, 

Though thou didst learn, had that in’t which good 
natures 

Could not abide to be with: therefore wast thou 
Deservedly confined into this rock, 

Who hadst deserved more than a prison. 

Cal. You, 

You taught me language : and my profit on’t 
Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid 
you 

For learning me your language ! 

Pros . Hag-seed, hence ! 

Fetch us in fuel; and be quick, thou’rt best, 

To answer other business. Shrugg’st thou, malice ? 
If thou neglect’st, or dost unwillingly 
What I command. I’ll rack thee with old cramps, 
Fill all thy bones with aches ; make thee roar. 
That beasts shall tremble at thy din. 


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THE TEMPEST . 


77 


Cal. No, ’pray thee !— 

[Aside.) I must obey; his art is of such power. 

It would control my dam’s god, Setebos, 

And make a vassal of him. 

Pros. So, slave; hence ! [Exit Caliban. 


As we listen to Prospero’s threats, 
we can see Caliban cringing at his 
feet, and trembling, with fear and 
anger combined. Then, when he 
answers, we can see him raise him¬ 
self threateningly before Prospero 
—with teeth and nails exhibited— 
only, however, to fall down again 
and quail beneath the power of his 
majestic master. It is very doubtful 
if any metaphysician (not excepting 
Shakespeare himself) has ever in so 
few words thrown so much light 
upon the inner self of a single in¬ 
dividual, as is done in the fore¬ 
going passage. Later on we have 
more light upon the character of 
Caliban. In Act II., Scene 2, note 
how he meets and carries himself 


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78 


THE TEMPEST. 


towards Stephano, the drunken 
Butler, and Trinculo, the Jester: 

Cal. {to Stephano ). Hast thou not dropped from 
heaven ? 

Ste. Out o’ the moon, I do assure thee: I was 
the man in the moon, when time was. 

Cal. I have seen thee in her, and I do adore 
thee : my mistress showed me thee, and thy dog, 
and thy bush. 

Trin. Well drawn, monster, in good sooth. 

Cal. I’ll show thee every fertile inch o’ the 
island, 

And I will kiss thy foot. I pr’ythee, be my 
god. 

Trin. By this light, a most perfidious and 
drunken monster; when his god’s asleep, he’ll 
rob his bottle. 

Cal. I’ll kiss thy foot: I’ll swear myself thy 
subject. 

Ste. Come on, then; down and swear. 
****** 

Cal. I’ll show thee the best springs ; I’ll pluck 
thee berries; 

I’ll fish for thee, and get thee wood enough. 

A plague upon the tyrant that I serve ! 

I’ll bear him no more sticks, but follow thee, 

Thou wondrous man. 

****** 

I pr’ythee, let me bring thee where crabs grow ; 
And I with my long nails will dig thee pig-nuts ; 
Show thee a jay’s nest, and instruct thee how 
To snare the nimble marmoset: Ill bring thee 
To clustering filberts, and sometimes I’ll get thee 
Young scamels from the rocks. Wilt thou go with 
me? 


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THE TEMPEST. 


79 


Ste. I pr’ythee now, lead the way, without any 
more talking.—Trinculo, the king and all our 
company else being drowned, we will inherit here. 
—Here; bear my bottle.—Fellow Trinculo, we’ll 
fill him by-and-by again. 

Cal. [sings drunkcnly). Farewell, master; fare - 
well, farewell. 

Trin. A howling monster, a drunken monster. 
Cal. No more dams I'll make for fish. 

Nor fetch in firing 
' At requiring, 

Nor scrape trencher , nor wash dish ! 

'Ban, 'Ban, Ca—Caliban 
Has a new master—get a new man. 
Freedom, hey-day ! hey-day, freedom ! freedom ! 
hey-day, freedom! 

Ste. O brave monster ! lead the way. {Exeunt. 


The boisterous merriment of Cali¬ 
ban, and the nature of the in¬ 
ducements here held out by the 
“ ridiculous monster ” to Trinculo 
and Stephano, furnish a remarkable 
revelation of Caliban’s psychological 
development. Further on (Act III., 
Scene 2), where Caliban is leading 
Stephano and Trinculo towards 
Prospero’s cell—where they may find 
him asleep, and “ knock a nail into 
his head ”—we find, in the murderous 


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THE TEMPEST , 


anger and in the changeful bestiality 
of the moon-calf, many more flashes 
of light upon the character of a being 
that is difficult of true presentment. 
Then (Act IV., Scene i) we see 
Caliban, with Stephano and Trin- 
culo at the mouth of Prospero’s cell, 
goading them on to murder its 
occupant. His plot, as we may ob¬ 
serve, is overthrown—Evil overcome 
by Good—but, although Caliban 
“ seeks grace,” and crouching at 
Prospero’s feet in the last scene, 
promises to “be wise hereafter,” we 
know that his promises are merely 
words, that his nature is unchanged 
and unchangeable. It is part of 
Shakespeare’s study in this play to 
prove that a creature in which the 
brutal instincts have so long been 
allowed growth and over-mastery, 
cannot possibly be reformed or 
spiritually elevated. In the words 
of Prospero we have, I cannot 




THE TEMPEST. 


81 


doubt, Shakespeare’s own decision 
in this regard: 

A devil, a born devil, on whose nature 
Nurture can never stick ; on whom my pains, 
Humanely taken, all, all lost, quite lost: 

And as with age his body uglier grows, 

So his mind cankers. 

♦ ♦ # # 

I may now remark that the method 
employed by Shakespeare for the 
portrayal of Caliban’s character is 
that of Impressionism. Impres¬ 
sionism, indeed, is common in 
Shakespeare; and to this fact, as 
much as to any other, Shake¬ 
speare’s success is attributable. Few 
novelists or dramatists realize, as 
Shakespeare realized, that Impres¬ 
sionism is the only true method 
employable for the presentment of 
human life. Some adopt the method, 
commonly called Realism, in which 
all the grosser attributes of humanity 
are ostentatiously paraded. This is 
Zolaism, not Realism. Others go to 

6 


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THE TEMPEST . 


the opposite extreme, and clothe all 
life in the ethereal dress of Spiritual 
Ideality. Both of these are ob¬ 
viously false. Impressionism is pho¬ 
tographic : it comprehends all things 
proportionately, therefore it is the 
only true Realism, and in using it 
was William Shakespeare perfect. 

* * * * 

Next in merit to this psychological 
study of Caliban, I account Shake¬ 
speare’s method in this play of re¬ 
vealing before our brain-vision the 
subtle workings upon men of the 
Spirit of Good. In dealing with 
“ Macbeth,” I stated that I regarded 
the Witches, not as mere practisers 
of witchcraft, but as the conveyance 
and representation of Temptation. 
In a similar manner I regard Ariel 
in “ The Tempest ” not as a mere 
fairy, but as the conveyance and 
representation of the Spirit of Good. 
The Spirit of Good is thus, as it 


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THE TEMPEST . 


*3 


were, made palpable to our senses, 
and in this way we can realize more 
fully its action upon human beings; 
and we can learn, too, that those 
who rightly woo that Spirit may 
even command it in deeds of right¬ 
eousness. When Sycorax came to 
the island (being a witch wicked and 
bad in herself), she imprisoned Ariel, 
the Spirit of Good, in the rift of a 
cloven pine because Ariel was 

A spirit too delicate 

To act her earthly and abhorred commands. 

And there did the Spirit of Good 
remain for twelve years, unsought by 
any until Prospero, an upright man, 
required the Spirit’s aid to accom¬ 
plish deeds of Good. By aid of this 
Spirit, Prospero causes the tempest, 
at the outset, from which so much 
Good eventually springs. Then (Act I., 
Scene 2) we find Ferdinand led into 
the presence of Prospero and Miranda 


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8 4 


THE TEMPEST 


by the same Spirit. ’Tis Ariel that 
whispers into the ear of the sleeping 
Gonzalo (Act II., Scene i), warning 
him of the danger hanging over the 
slumberers, and causing him to 
arouse Alonzo, and the others. 
Again (Act III., Scene 2) it is Ariel 
that confuses and confounds Caliban, 
Stephano, and Trinculo, when they 
are following Evil. Later (Act III., 
Scene 3) this Spirit of Good strikes 
terror and compunction into the 
hearts of Alonzo, Sebastian, and 
Antonio, by bringing home to them 
the wrongful “supplanting of good 
Prospero.” Then we see how Ariel 
is instrumental in overthrowing the 
murderous plot of Caliban and 
Stephano, and Trinculo; we see 
him leading Alonzo, Sebastian, and 
Antonio into the presence of Pros¬ 
pero in order that they may become 
reconciled; and, lastly, we observe 
him leading the Master and Boat- 


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THE TEMPEST. 


*5 


swain to find their “ king and com¬ 
pany,” and driving {not leading, it is 
significant to note) Caliban and the 
Jester and the drunken Butler into 
the concluding harmony of the play. 
* * * * 

The chief moral tuition conveyed 
in “ The Tempest ” is very similar to 
that conveyed in “ As You Like It.” 
Its theme in this respect is the trans¬ 
formation of man’s unrighteous hate 
for man into Love by means of man’s 
philanthropy. It teaches us that 
Forgiveness is a divinity. 



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OTHELLO. 


O THELLO ” is above all else 
a Revelation in man of 
Satanic Hypocrisy, Iago 
being the medium created by Shake¬ 
speare for the presentation of this 
revelation. The moral pointed by 
the play is the Evil of Jealousy. The 
existence of Jealousy presupposes the 
previous or present existence of Love 
—self-love, or selfishness, on the one 
hand; or love of some person else, on 
the other. Jealousy must needs spring 
from either of these, and Shakespeare, 
fully conscious of this fact, shows 
Othello’s Jealousy springing from his 
Love of Desdemona, and Iago’s 
Jealousy arising from his Love of 


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OTHELLO . 


87 


self. Iago’s Jealousy, it may be 
observed, is the means selected by 
Shakespeare for the Revelation of 
Satanic Hypocrisy. To bring this 
Hypocrisy into play where it is 
latent requires the influence of 
another inherent attribute which is 
capable of being directly reached by 
an outward influence. For without 
the interposition of such an attribute 
Hypocrisy could not be revealed, 
being itself beyond the direct reach 
of any outward influence. So it is 
that the interpositional attribute in 
Iago’s case is his self-loving Jealousy, 
and through this medium of jealousy 
we are shown his Satanic Hypocrisy 
to be a Hydra-headed monster in¬ 
deed. I use the word Satanic in this 
regard advisedly, for it appears to 
me that Iago’s almost illimitable 
possession of immoral dissimulation 
partakes more of devilry than it does 
of human frailty. I do not wish it 


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88 


OTHELLO. 


to be gathered from this remark that 
I deem Iago’s character not true to 
nature. Unfortunately, it must be 
confessed, these dove-feathered ravens 
are only too common in our midst. 
Iago’s Jealousy, stirring and reveal¬ 
ing his dissimulation, is rendered 
apparent even in the opening 
conversation between himself and 
Roderigo. 

Rod. Thou told’st me, thou didst hold him in 
thy hate. 

Iago. Despise me, if I do not. Three great 
ones of the city, 

In personal suit to make me his lieutenant, 
Off-capped to him ; and, by the faith of man, 

I know my price, I’m worth no worse a place. 

But he, as loving his own pride and purposes. 
Evades them with a bombast circumstance 
Horribly stuffed with epithets of war; 

And, in conclusion, 

Nonsuits my mediators. For, Certes , says he, 

/ have alteady chose my officer. 

And what was he ? 

Forsooth, a great arithmetician, 

One Michael Cassio, a Florentine, 

A fellow almost damned in a fair wife; 

That never set a squadron in the field, 

Nor the division of a battle knows 

More than a spinster ; unless the bookish theorick, 

Wherein the toged consuls can propose 


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OTHELLO. 


89 


As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practice, 
Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the elec¬ 
tion ; 

And I—of whom his eyes had seen the proof 
At Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds, 
Christian and heathen—must be lee’d and calmed 
By debtor and creditor, this counter-caster ; 

He, in good time, must his lieutenant be. 

And I —God bless the mark—his Moorship’s 
ancient. 

****** 

Now, sir, be judge yourself, 

Whether I in any just term am affined 
To love the Moor. 

Rod. I would not follow him then. 

I ago. O sir, content you ; 

I follow him to serve my turn upon him : 

We cannot all be masters, nor all masters 
Cannot be truly followed. You shall mark 
Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave, 

That, doting on his own obsequious bondage, 
Wears out his time, much like his master’s ass, 

For nought but provender; and when he’s old, 
cashiered; 

Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are, 
Who, trimmed in forms and visages of duty, 

Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves ; 
And, throwing but shows of service on their 
lords, 

Do well thrive by ’em; and when they’ve lined 
their coats 

Do themselves homage : these fellows have some 
soul; 

And such a one do I profess myself. 

For, sir, 

It is as sure as you are Roderigo, 

Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago: 


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90 


OTHELLO . 


In following him I follow but myself; 

Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty, 
But seeming so, for my peculiar end ; 

For when my outward action doth demonstrate 
The native act and figure of my heart 
In compliment extern , ’tis not long after 
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve 
For daws to peck at; I am not what I am . 


It will be seen that in this dialogue 
I ago sounds the true note of his own 
character and action, unfolding the 
Jealousy and Hypocrisy of his inner 
self before a man who, despite such 
unfolding, can be successfully snared 
in the meshes set by the Machiavelian 
morality of Iago, he actually thinking 
Iago to be his friend. From this un¬ 
folding by Iago of his own character 
onwards to the end of the play, the 
reader will discover that every evil 
presented is the outcome, direct or 
indirect, of this one man’s Jealousy. 
Where his Jealousy does not work 
evil directly, it works it indirectly 
by moving his Hypocrisy. This is 
egregiously the case in regard to the 


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OTHELLO . 


9 i 


stirring of Othello’s Jealousy, and its 
chain of tragic consequences. In the 
first scene of the play, immediately 
after Iago’s definition of his own 
character, we are given practical 
illustration of those attributes of his 
which drew for him, from the 
brain of the latest commentator of 
“ Othello,” the following acute and 
sententious characterization : “ Iago 
is endowed with a Protean faculty of 
immoral changefulness.” Here, at 
the outset, we see him urging, and 
then assisting, Roderigo to arouse 
Brabantio, and to stir the father’s 
ire against “ the Moor,” with whom 
Desdemona has just eloped. And 
having stayed long enough to set 
dark Mischief afoot, he betakes him¬ 
self to the company of Othello, and, 
seeming to be the Moor’s friend, 
pours poisoned words into his ear 
about Roderigo—Roderigo, to whom 
a short while previously he confided 




92 


OTHELLO . 


the information that he “ hated 
Othello as he hated hell - pains!” 
Again (Act I., Scene 3), we observe 
Iago pretending love for Roderigo, 
and proposing cankerous balm to 
heal the wound of Roderigo’s dis¬ 
appointed passion. He says: 

I have professed me thy friend, and I confess 
me knit to thy deserving with cables of perdurable 
toughness; I could never better stead thee than 
now. Put money in thy purse ; follow these wars; 
defeat thy favour with an usurped beard; I say, 
put money in thy purse. It cannot be that Desde- 
mona should long continue her love to the Moor— 
put money in thy purse—nor he his to her: it was 
a violent commencement in her, and thou shalt see 
an answerable sequestration;—put money in thy 
purse. ... If sanctimony and a frail vow be¬ 
twixt an erring barbarian and a super-subtle Vene¬ 
tian be not too hard for my wits and all the tribe 
of hell, thou shalt enjoy her; therefore, make 
money. A pox of drowning thyself! it is clean 
out of the way : seek thou rather to be hanged in 
compassing thy joy than to be drowned and go 
without her. 

Rod. Wilt thou be fast to my hopes, if I depend 
on the issue ? 

Iago. Thou art sure of me.—Go, make money. 
—I have told thee often, and I re-tell thee again 
and again, I hate the Moor: my cause is hearted; 
thine hath no less reason. Let us be conjunctive 
in our revenge against him : if thou canst cuckold 
him, thou dost thyself a pleasure, me a sport. ... ' 

We will have more of this to-morrow. Adieu.. . . 



OTHELLO . 


93 


Rod, I am changed. I’ll go sell all my land. 
logo. Go to; farewell! put money enough in 
your purse. [Exit Roderigo, 

In Iago’s ensuing soliloquy, we 
notice him thinking out the involve¬ 
ment of Cassio in his plotting: 

Cassio’s a proper man : let me see now; 

To get his place, and to plume up my will 
In double knavery,—How, how ? Let’s see:— 
After some time, to abuse Othello’s ear 
That he is too familiar with his wife:— 

He hath a person and a smooth dispose, 

To be suspected ; framed to make women false. 
The Moor is of a free and open nature, 

That thinks men honest that but seem to be so. 
And will as tenderly be led by the nose 
As asses are.— 

I have’t; it is engendered :—hell and night 
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s 
light. 

Next, we listen to Iago (Act II., 
Scene i) arousing Roderigo against 
Cassio by persuading him that “Desde- 
mona is directly in love with Cassio.” 
And, having stirred Roderigo to 
“ provoke Cassio to strike him ” in 
order that Iago may “ out of that 
cause these of Cyprus to mutiny, 
whose qualification shall come into 


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94 


OTHELLO . 


no true taste again but by the dis¬ 
placing of Cassio,” Iago soliloquizes 
thus: 

That Cassio loves her, I do well believe it; 

That she loves him, ’tis apt, and of great credit; 
The Moor—howbeit that I endure hum not— 

Is of a constant, loving, and noble nature; 

And I dare think he’ll prove to Desdemona 
A most dear husband. Now, I do love her too; 
Not out of absolute lust—though, peradventure 
I stand accountant for as great a sin— 

But partly led to diet my revenge, 

For that I do suspect the lusty Moor 
Hath leaped into my seat; the thought thereof 
Doth like a pernicious mineral gnaw my inwards; 
And nothing can or shall content my soul, 

Till I am evened with him, wife for wife; 

Or, failing so, yet that I put the Moor 
At least into a jealousy so strong 
That judgment cannot cure. Which thing to do, 
If this poor trash of Venice , whom I trace 
for his quick huntings stand the putting-on. 

I’ll have our Michael Cassio on the hip : 

Abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb. 

For I fear Cassio with my night-cap too: 

Make the Moor thank me, love me, and reward 
me, 

For making him egregiously an ass, 

And practising upon his peace and quiet 
Even to madness. 

This is the subtle plot-web that 
Iago sets himself to weave to sate his 
Jealousy. He succeeds in weaving 


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OTHELLO . 95 

it, and in its super-complicated net¬ 
work, with its dire results and conse¬ 
quences, Iago’s Satanic Hypocrisy is 
revealed, and the Evil of Jealousy 
is marvellously demonstrated. The 
super-subtlety of Iago’s “ divinity of 
hell ” is, perhaps, nowhere more 
vividly revealed than in Act II., 
Scene 3. Owing to the apparently 
simple manner in which the events 
are here brought about, a casual 
reader is likely to overlook the 
quality of metaphysical anatomiza¬ 
tion presented; but to the student 
it must appear that the man who 
created Iago was endowed with an 
insight passing the insight of man, 
and worthy of the intellect of a 
god. 

With regard to Iago’s criticisms 
of human actions—his observations 
upon men and manners—they are 
altogether true to his own character. 
He is one who knows only the 


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96 


OTHELLO. 


“ seamy side,” and, consequently, 
he can allow no more elevated de¬ 
signs in men’s acts than those by 
which he himself is, and has been, 
actuated. Of a piece with this 
cynicism of Iago’s is his picture of 
womanhood: 

You’re pictures out of doors, 

Bells in your parlours, wild cats in your kitchens, 
Saints in your injuries, devils being offended, 
Players in your housewifery, and housewives in 
your beds. 

# # * * 

The union of Othello with Desde- 
mona is clearly not one of true 
love. Othello was influenced and 
led by sensuality ; Desdemona by, at 
best, pity, or admiration of bravery. 
If the Moor’s love had been of a 
different, and more elevated kind, it 
is more than probable that the great 
evil of the tragedy would have 
been averted. Othello did not know 
Desdemona; if he did know her, her 
innocence would have been patent 


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OTHELLO. 


97 


to him. There was no spiritual 
homogeneity between husband and 
wife. As I cannot find better words 
to briefly express my views of the 
secondary characters in “ Othello ” 
than the following ones, I willingly 
quote them : 

“ Cassio is brave, benevolent, and 
honest; ruined only by his want of 
stubbornness to resist an insidious 
invitation. Roderigo’s suspicious cre¬ 
dulity and impatient submission to 
the cheats which he sees practised 
upon him—and which by persuasion 
he suffers to be repeated—exhibit a 
strong picture of a weak mind be¬ 
trayed by unlawful desires to a false 
friend; and the virtue of Emilia is 
such as we often find worn loosely, 
but not cast off, easy to commit 
small crimes, but quickened and 
alarmed at atrocious villanies.” 

There is just one thing in con¬ 
nection with “ Othello ” which I 
must always regret, because it mars 

7 


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98 


OTHELLO . 


the final effect of the play. I refer 
to the fact that Desdemona is made 
to speak, after she has been stifled 
by Othello. Everyone, of course, 
perceives that once suffocation is 
brought about, the person so stifled 
can never speak more. From the 
moment that asphyxia takes place 
until Death conquers, utterance is 
absolutely impossible. 



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CYMBELINE. 


T HE following words were read 
aloud to me as the opinion of 
a “ celebrated critic ” upon the 
play of “ Cymbeline ” : 

“To remark the folly of the fiction, 
the absurdity of the conduct, the 
confusion of the names and the 
manners of different times, and the 
impossibility of the events in any 
system of life, were to waste criti¬ 
cism upon unresisting imbecility, 
upon faults too evident for detection, 
and too gross for aggravation.” 

This vehement vituperation re¬ 
minds one of Swinburne’s prose, 
when he is writing under the influ¬ 
ence of the “ violence of repulsion.” 


100 


CYMBELINE. 


At the time that I first heard these 
views, I thought them pusillanimous 
and puerile, and it may be permis¬ 
sible for me to still hold them to 
be so. The man who wrote thus of 
“ Cymbeline ”—if he did not alto¬ 
gether merit the application to 
himself of the term “ unresisting 
imbecility ”—at least deserved to be 
set down as an individual incapable 
of appreciating, much less critically 
analysing, any work of ontological 
profundity. It is not a little sur¬ 
prising to find that it was Johnson 
who penned the objectionable opinion 
just quoted. It certainly surprised 
me; and this, notwithstanding that 
Johnson is an author in whose criti¬ 
cism I have learned to be content 
with finding a handful of grain in a 
bushel of chaff. 

First of all, however, I shall point 
out what I conceive to be the leading 
moral teachings of Shakespeare in 


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CYMBELINE. 


IOI 


“ Cymbeline ”; and then I shall 
endeavour to show to what extent 
Johnson erred (and he is not alone 
in this error) in his criticism. 

To demonstrate the Evil of Human 
Passion that is unguided by Reason, 
appears to me to be the main object 
of Shakespeare in this play. This 
evil is first shown in Act I., Scene 2, 
when Cymbeline impetuously pro¬ 
nounces the banishment of Pos¬ 
thumus, and, in rage, orders Imogen, 
his daughter, to be imprisoned: 

Cym. {to Posthumus ). Thou basest thing, avoid l 
hence, from my sight! 

If after this command thou fraught the court 
With thy unworthiness, thou diest. Away ! 
Thou’rt poison to my blood. 

Post . The gods protect you. 

And bless the good remainders of the court! 

I am gone. [ Exit . 

Imo. There cannot be a pinch in death 
More sharp than this is. 

Cym . O disloyal thing, 

That shouldst repair my youth, thou heap’st 
A year’s age on me. 

Imo. I beseech you, sir, 

Harm not yourself with your vexation : 

I am senseless of your wrath; a touch more rare 
Subdues all pangs, all fears. 



102 


CYMBELINE. 


Cym. Past grace ? obedience ? 

Into, Past hope, and in despair ; that way, past 
grace. 

Cym . That mightst have had the sole son of my 
queen! 

Imo. O bless’d, that I might not! I chose an 
eagle, 

And did avoid a puttock. 

Cym. Thou took’st a beggar; wouldst have 
made my throne 
A seat for baseness. 

Imo. No ; I rather added 

A lustre to it. 

Cym. O thou vile one ! 

Imo. Sir, 

It is your fault that I have lov’d Posthumus: 

You bred him as my playfellow ; and he is 
A man worth any woman ; overbuys me 
Almost the silm he pays. 

Cym. What ! art thou mad ? 

Imo. Almost, sir : heaven restore me !—’Would 
I were 

A neat-herd’s daughter, and my Leonatus 
Our neighbour shepherd’s son ! 

Cym. Thou foolish thing !— 

Re-enter Queen. 

(To the Queen. ) They were again together : you 
have done 

Not after our command. Away with her, 

And pen her up. 

Queen. ’Beseech you patience.—Peace ! 

Dear lady daughter, peace !—Sweet sovereign, 
Leave us to ourselves; and make yourself some 
comfort 

Out of your best advice. 

Cym. Nay, let her languish 

A drop of blood a day; and, being aged, 

Die of this folly ! 


CYMBELINE. 103 

It will be observed here that 
Cymbeline’s unthoughtful passion 
leads him to the verge of cursing 
his very daughter. 

Scene 4, Act I., discloses the same 
evil at work in regard to Post¬ 
humus. Here we see him accepting 
Iachimo’s vicious wager as to the 
virtue, the constancy, of Imogen— 
Posthumus’s wife — when a little 
reasoning upon the obvious moral 
laxity of Iachimo would, doubtless, 
have dissuaded him from such accept¬ 
ance. Not, indeed, that he might 
doubt for one moment the strength 
of Imogen to resist temptation; but 
he might have guessed that Iachimo 
was not at all above the meanest and 
most cowardly subterfuge. 

Again (Act II., Scene 4), in the ac¬ 
ceptance by Posthumus of Iachimo’s 
very weak evidence of Imogen’s 
alleged guilt, we find the same idea 
conveyed; as also in his hasty con- 


104 


CYMBELINE. 


demnation of all women (Act II., 
Scene 5), because of the supposed 
vice of one: 


There’s no motion 

That tends to vice in man, but I affirm 
It is the woman’s part: be it lying, note it 
The woman’s ; flattering, hers; deceiving, hers; 
Lust and rank thoughts, hers, hers; revenges, 
hers; 

Ambitions, covetings, change of prides, disdain, 
Nice longing, slanders, mutability, 

All faults that may be nam'd, nay, that hell 
knows. 

Why, hers, in part or all: but rather, all; 

For even to vice 

They are not constant, but are changing still 
One vice but of a minute old, for one 
Not half so old as that. I’ll write against them, 
Detest them, curse them. 

Act III., Scene 1, affords further 
evidence of this dominant moral 
teaching of Shakespeare in this par¬ 
ticular work. For, do we not here 
behold Cymbeline refusing, with 
thoughtless petulance, to pay tribute 
to Augustus Caesar ? Thus he gives 
answer to Caius Lucius, Caesar’s 
ambassador: 


CYMBELINE. 


105 


Cym. You must know, 

Till the injurious Romans did extort 
This tribute from us, we were free; Caesar’s ambi¬ 
tion, 

(Which swell’d so much, that it did almost stretch 
The sides o* the world,) against all colour, here 
Did put the yoke upon’s ; which to shake off 
Becomes a warlike people, whom we reckon 
Ourselves to be. We do say then to Caesar, 

Our ancestor was that Mulmutius, which 
Ordain’d our laws ; whose use the sword of Caesar 
Hath too much mangled; whose repair and fran¬ 
chise 

Shall, by the power we hold, be our good deed, 
Though Rome be therefore angry. Mulmutius 
made our laws, 

Who was the first of Britain which did put 
His brows within a golden crown, and call’d 
Himself a king. 

Luc. I am sorry, Cymbeline, 

That I am to pronounce Augustus Caesar 
(Caesar, that hath more kings his servants, than 
Thyself domestic officers) thine enemy. 

Receive it from me, then :—war, and confusion, 

In Caesar’s name pronounce I ’gainst thee : look 
For fury not to be resisted. 

In Act III., Scene 2, unreasoning 
passion predominates in Imogen’s 
headlong desire to fly to Milford. 
Then in Scene 3, of the same Act, 
the self-same evil is brought before 
us in the relation of Belarius con¬ 
cerning his own banishment: 


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CYMBELINE. 


Bel . (ito Guiderius and Arviragus). My fault 
being nothing? (as I have told you oft) 

But that two villains, whose false oaths prevail’d 
Before my perfect honour, swore to Cymbeline, 

I was confederate with the Romans : so 
Follow’d my banishment; and this twenty years 
This rock, and these demesnes, have been my 
world, 

Where I have liv’d at honest freedom, paid 
More pious debts to heaven, than in all 
The fore-end of my time. 

Scene 4 likewise evidences the 
same showing, wherein Posthumus 
writes to Pisanio, directing him to 
take Imogen’s life: “ Let thine own 
hands take away her life,” and 
wherein Imogen begs of Pisanio to 
carry out her husband’s command: 

Pr’ythee, despatch: 

The lamb entreats the butcher: where’s thy knife ? 
Thou art too slow to do thy master’s bidding, 
When I desire it too. 

Then (Act III., Scene 6, and 
Act IV., Scene 1) Cloten is shown 
placing rash trust in Pisanio; and 
in Scene 2, Act IV., Guiderius is 
presented encountering Cloten with 
temerity, not knowing how per- 



CYMBELINE. 


107 


nicious the result may be to him¬ 
self. 

The Qtieen, more particularly as 
we know her in the disclosures of 
Cornelius, the Physician (Act V., 
Scene 5), is seen to be remarkable 
as conveying a demonstration of the 
evil of unreasoning passion. The 
last instance in the play of this 
leading moral tuition is Cymbeline’s 
giving way, momentarily though it 
be, to the temptation to have re¬ 
venge for the beheading of Cloten, by 
pronouncing death upon Guiderius: 

Cym. I am sorry for thee : 

By thine own tongue thou art condemn’d, and must 
Endure our law. Thou’rt dead. 

* * * * 

In this poor world of ours there 
are men innumerable who, when the 
true virtue of womanhood comes into 
discussion or consideration, will snap 
their fingers, and cynically exclaim 
with I ago, “Virtue! a fig!” There 



io8 CYMBELINE. 

are thousands of men who think, or 
profess to think, of all women as 
Iachimo in “ Cymbeline ” thinks of 
Imogen: 

I will lay you ten thousand ducats to your ring, 
that, commend me to the court where your lady is, 
with no more advantage than the opportunity of a 
second conference, and I will bring from thence 
that honour of hers, which you imagine so re¬ 
served. 

Yes, thousands think and profess 
to think in this manner; but Shake¬ 
speare, by his creation of Imogen, 
gives answer (happily a true answer) 
to those who would rob humanity of 
one of the most potent charms, one 
of the most puissant comforters in 
all the storms of the world, namely, 
the faithful and pure love of woman¬ 
hood. Imogen is Shakespeare’s 
answer, and in my heart I am 
thankful that Imogens are the rule 
and not the exception — Imogens 
who, if they are not quite so physi¬ 
cally perfect as is Shakespeare’s 




CYMBELINE. 


109 


heroine, are charming by reason of 
that light of Virtue which passes 
from the spirit into the face. 

This demonstration—profound and 
psychologically accurate as it un¬ 
doubtedly is—of the virtue of woman¬ 
hood, I take to be the moral teaching 
which comes second in prominence 
in “ Cymbeline.” It is interesting 
in the extreme—to me, indeed, it is 
fascinating—to study the nature of 
true womanhood as exhibited in 
Shakespeare’s Imogen. In the first 
place we get a glimpse of this nature 
in Imogen’s rejection of the villainous 
Cloten, and in her acceptance, for 
husband, of Posthumus, a being of 
whom it can be said : 

I do not think 
So fair an outward and such stuff within 
Endows a man but he. 

What depths her words sound 
when Posthumus is driven from her: 

There cannot be a pinch in death 

More sharp than this is. 


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CYMBELINE. 


Then what tenderness there is in 
this passage: 

Imo. I did not take my leave of him, but had 
Most pretty things to say: ere I could tell him, 
How I would think on him, at certain hours, 

Such thoughts, and such; or I could make him 
swear 

The shes of Italy should not betray 
Mine interest and his honour; or have charg’d 
him, 

At the sixth hour of mom, at noon, at midnight. 
To encounter me with orisons, for then 
I am in heaven for him ; or ere I could 
Give him that parting kiss, which I had set 
Betwixt two charming words, comes in my father, 
And, like the tyrannous breathing of the north, 
Shakes all our buds from growing. 


But it is more particularly in the 
scenes wherein she is tempted and 
deeply suffering that the full depths 
of her true woman’s nature are re¬ 
vealed. 

So far as the opening of Scene 6 
in the first act, her afflictions are 
summed up in her own words, thus: 

Into. A father cruel, and a step-dame false ; 

A foolish suitor to a wedded lady, 

That hath her husband banish’d. 


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CYMBELINE. 


ill 


When Iachimo (who, by the way, 
is the Iago of this play) lies to 
Imogen about Posthumus, and tempts 
her to be false, then truly in her first 
reply, and in her subsequent repulse, 
as also in her solicitude regarding 
the safety of the “jewels of rich and 
exquisite form,” which Iachimo states 
to be “ a present for the emperor ” 
from Posthumus among others, then 
do we see the perfection of woman¬ 
hood. 

Again, in her answers to Cloten 
(Act II., Scene 3), we are charmed 
by her spirited womanliness. 

Imogen’s desire to fly to Milford 
to meet Posthumus, and which I 
cited as an instance of unreasoning 
passion, may be taken as an instance 
also of that love of hers which “ in¬ 
cludes all weaknesses that are a part 
of strength.” But nowhere through¬ 
out the play do we get more vivid 
light upon Imogen’s character than 


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112 


CYMBELINE . 


in Scenes 4 and 6 of the third Act, 
and in Scene 2 of the fourth Act. 

In reading these we become bound 
in heart for ever to a woman of 
purest love and highest nobility. 
Mark, too, how she acts in the final 
scene, where she is restored to Post¬ 
humus ! It is the crowning evidence 
in this play of those attributes of 
womanhood which give answer to 
the gibes of immoral cynicism. 

With regard to Johnson’s remarks 
upon “ Cymbeline,” they are confuted 
at every turn in the play. The only 
“folly” discoverable in “the fic¬ 
tion ” is the human folly, presented 
by Shakespeare with photographic 
fidelity. 

There is no “ absurdity of con¬ 
duct,” nor is there any “ impossibility 
of events.” Minute analysis of the 
conduct of the various individuals of 
the story convinces me that such 
conduct is, in every instance, the 


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CYMBELINE. 


“3 


natural outcome of the psychological 
endowments of these individuals; 
while similar analysis of the events 
of “ Cymbeline ” leads me to believe 
that they are not only not impos¬ 
sible, but that they are remarkable 
illustrations of the relentless evolu¬ 
tion of Circumstance. 

As to the “ confusion of the names 
and the manners of different times,” 
the names, so far as I have been able 
to trace, are perfectly in accordance 
with that time when Augustus Caesar 
was Emperor of Rome, when Cym¬ 
beline was king of semi-barbarous 
Britain; and of the manners, there 
is no evidence to warrant the state¬ 
ment that they are in any sense 
confused. 

* * * * 

The likeness-links between “ Cym¬ 
beline ” and Shakespeare’s other 
works are very numerous. The 
banishment of Posthumus by Cym- 

8 


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114 cymbeliUe . 

beline reminds us of the banishments 
pronounced by Lear. Cymbeline’s 
cruel treatment of Imogen recalls 
Lear’s treatment of Cordelia. The 
assumption of man’s apparel by 
Imogen brings to mind Rosalind in 
“ As You Like It,” Portia in “ The 
Merchant of Venice,” and Viola in 
“ Twelfth Night,” among others. 

The links with “ A Winter’s Tale ” 
are obvious. With Iachimo’s decep¬ 
tion of Posthumus and Imogen, we 
may contrast Iago’s practices in 
“ Othello.” Again, we may see a 
likeness between Imogen and Juliet, 
although it may be said that the 
former is a much nobler character 
than Romeo’s “ sweet saint.” 

Many more similarities could be 
cited. We may, however, conclude by 
noting the likeness existing between 
Lucrece and Imogen, Act II., Scene 2. 

Considered in all its bearings, the 


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CYMBELINE. 


!I 5 


play of “ Cymbeline ” takes rank 
among the greatest and most mature 
conceptions of “ myriad - minded 99 
Shakespeare. 

Not in any other play of his, singly 
regarded, do we find more vividly 
portrayed human weakness and 
human strength, human vice and 
human virtue. 

As an accurate presentment of 
the primitive untutored passions of 
humanity, Cymbeline remains un¬ 
surpassed. 



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HAMLET. 

W HEN I was twelve years old 
I could repeat from memory 
much of the text of “ Ham¬ 
let”—certainly all of the more im¬ 
portant soliloquies. Since then I 
have been carefully studying the 
character and the philosophy of 
Hamlet more or less constantly, and 
I have not yet by any means finished 
that study. I shall, however, set 
down my present deductions from 
the text, liable as such deductions 
are to emendation. Hamlet has 
swayed my mind and life more than 
any other character I have ever en¬ 
countered in or out of literature. 
His figure is, I may say, constantly 


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HAMLET . 


117 

before my mind’s eye; and this is 
how he looks: a man of thirty 
winters, of middle height, and slight 
but graceful, form; his face, wan 
and thin; his hair, auburn, and 
hanging in loose, neglected curls 
about his neck; his beard (that he 
had a beard I do not doubt), of the 
same colour, short, and pointed; and 
his eyes, steel gray, capable of an in¬ 
finitude of expression. Add to this a 
soul-searching look ever present in 
his eyes—independent of all other 
expressions of which those eyes are 
capable — and add, likewise, his 
doublet and hose of solemn black, 
with his rapier and dagger upon hip 
—then you have my conception of 
Hamlet’s personal appearance. Yet, 
perhaps, I should add that his ap¬ 
pearance conveys to me the idea that 
his body is a mere hyper-sensitive 
nerve, too weak, immeasurably, for 
the great soul that it encases. 


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HAMLET . 


11S 

In reading any man’s views of the 
matter which he may read, and the 
characters he may study in any book, 
it is very desirable that you should 
remember that such ideas as he may 
honestly set forth must be simply 
and essentially the reflex of a Some¬ 
thing which has already been and 
still is within himself. You may 
throw a peach into a basket that is 
filled with oranges, but, no matter 
how long you keep sifting it through 
the oranges, it will still come out a 
peach. Hence, when I write my 
views of Hamlet’s character and 
philosophy, it will be recognised that 
I merely give proof of the fact that 
Shakespeare, through Hamlet, has 
touched certain responsive chords 
within me. Spiritual contact may 
awaken responsiveness; it cannot 
alter attributes. 

As to Hamlet’s moral philosophy, 
I have no hesitation in stating that 


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HAMLET. 


119 

no philosopher, moralist, preacher, 
or divine ever expounded doctrines 
more sublime or more ennobling. 
Nay, more, I am thoroughly con¬ 
vinced that if Hamlet’s teachings 
were allowed to take the place of 
those of the Bible, humanity should 
not suffer by the change. Certain 
am I that we should have as much 
true religion, as much purity and 
morality, as many moralists, preachers, 
and divines, an equal amount of 
mystery with regard to life, before¬ 
life and after-life, with regard to 
space and eternity, as much spiritual 
sublimation, too, as we have at the 
present time. I shall briefly consider 
some of the points of Hamlet’s philo¬ 
sophy. 

Of the responsibility of man for 
man’s existence I find in Hamlet a 
profound and strange, though I am 
convinced that it is the most en¬ 
nobling and sublime, theory. It is 


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120 


HAMLET * 


this: that the responsibility of en¬ 
gendering human existence is im¬ 
measurably greater than that of 
putting an end to such existence. 
Indeed, the theory reaches so far as 
to warrant the conclusion that, were 
it not for “ the dread of something 
after death,” which 

Puzzles the will, 

And makes us rather bear those ills we have, 

Than fly to others that we know not of, 

there could be no justification what¬ 
ever for a man who is weary of exist¬ 
ence, or who feels that he is useless 
and has nothing to live for, not im¬ 
mediately putting an end to his life. 
Furthermore, if such a man does not 
dread a something after death, he is 
an arrant fool to live. It will be 
conceded that this is a natural de¬ 
duction from Hamlet’s chief mono¬ 
logues, so far as self-destruction is 
concerned; while his actions with 
regard to the killing of Polonius and 


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HAMLET . 


121 


Claudius show that he thought but 
lightly of the taking of another’s life, 
when just circumstances approved 
the deed. On the other hand, his 
attitude towards Ophelia, whom he 
loved deeply, proves that his sense 
of the responsibility of engendering 
human existence was so great that, 
although he loved her so that 

Forty thousand brothers 
Could not, with all their quantity of love, 
Make up his sum, 

yet he restrained his passion—reason 
and intellect triumphed over flesh— 
and he held aloof from his love. 
Hamlet’s philosophy on this point 
may best be observed in Scene i of 
the third Act, in which he utters his 
heart-felt sentiments in the disguise 
of madness: fain would he see the 
poor and sinning human race die 
out; and he, for one, shuddered at 
the thought of adding to its number. 
In this regard his question to Ophelia 


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122 


HAMLET . 


may be taken as the index to a deep 
and voluminous philosophy: 

Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners ? 

And the following words — uttered, 
too, with the semblance of madness 
—may be regarded as expressing an 
ardent wish of his soul: 

I say we will have no more marriages: those 
that are married already, all but one, shall live ; 
the rest shall keep as they are. 

He who thinks upon this theory in all 
its bearings will agree with me when 
I say that nothing could be nobler. 

Another very prominent phase in 
Hamlet’s philosophy is his profound 
and noble contempt for the common 
wrongs of life, which are well-nigh 
innumerable. The following may be 
read as a general censure in this 
direction: 

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable. 

Seem to me all the uses of this world ! 

Fie on’t! O fie ! ’tis an unweeded garden 
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in 
nature 

Possess it merely. 


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HAMLET. 


123 


Witness likewise in this regard the 
following passage, wherein the wrong 
of condemning a man, otherwise 
virtuous, because of one defect, 
“ nature’s livery, or fortune’s star,” is 
criticised: 

So, oft it chances in particular men, 

That for some vicious mole of nature in them, 

As, in their birth (wherein they are not guilty, 
Since nature cannot choose his origin), 

By the o’ergrowth of some complexion,, 

Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason : 
Or by some habit, that too much o’er-leavens 
The form of plausive manners;—that these men— 
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect, 

Being nature’s livery, or fortune’s star— 

Their virtues else, be they as pure as grace, 

As infinite as man may undergo, 

Shall in the general censure take corruption 
From that particular fault: the dram of bale 
Doth all the noble substance off and out 
To his own scandal. 

Witness also this: 

To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one 
man picked out of ten thousand. 

Here, too, this disdain is shown : 

Ham. My uncle is King of Denmark, and those 
that would make mouths at him while my father 
lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, an hundred ducats 
a*piece, for his picture in little. ’Sblood, there is 
something in this more than natural, if philosophy 
could find it out. 


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HAMLET . 


Again, such utterances as the 
following bear evidence of Hamlet’s 
deep-seated disdain of the World’s 
Wrongs: 

The power of beauty will sooner transform 
honesty from what it is to a bawd, than the force 
of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness. 

Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou 
shalt not escape calumny. 

O heavens, die two months ago, and not for¬ 
gotten yet? 7 hen there's hope a great man's 
memory may outlive his life half a year: but , by'r 
ladyj he must build churches then> or else shall he 
suffer not thinking on . 

In his most famous soliloquy, also, 
the same contempt is apparent, when 
he refers to 

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune ; 

and: 


The whips and scorns of time, 

The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s con¬ 
tumely, 

The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, 

The insolence of office, and the spurns 
That patient merit of the unworthy takes. 

There are numerous parallel in¬ 
stances which I need not here cite, 


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HAMLET . 


125 


as they readily suggest themselves to 
the thoughtful reader, 

* * * * 

The will - power of Hamlet has 
been, I believe, very much debated. 
To me Hamlet appears to have been 
a man of abnormal will-power, his 
failure to act being due to his super¬ 
sensitive nervous system being over¬ 
exercised by a too strong soul. 
Strength in all that spiritual strength 
means is one of the peculiar and dis¬ 
tinguishing characteristics of Hamlet. 
In him, however, through hysterical 
disability,* 

The native hue of resolution 
Is sickled o’er with the pale cast of thought, 
And enterprises of great pith and moment, 
With this regard their currents turn awry, 

And lose the name of action. 


* My own personal experience confirms this 
theory of inaction as the result of hysterical dis¬ 
ability. While suffering from such indisposition 
I noticed that my will was strong to act, and that 
enterprises thronged into my brain ; but my ner¬ 
vous system proved prohibitive of action, save such 
as would come, as it were, in spurts. This I con¬ 
ceive to have been the perpetual state of Hamlet. 


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126 


HAMLET . 


I come now to that very much 
discussed question, “ Was Hamlet 
mad ?” and I may say that to me the 
text yields the emphatic answer that 
Hamlet was not mad. Viewing 
Hamlet from opening to close of the 
tragedy, having regard to his sanity, 
his conduct bears division into three 
phases: (i) When he appears and is 
perfectly sane; (2) when he appears 
mad, but is only feigning madness; 
(3) when, under the immediate in¬ 
fluence of some tremendous shock, 
his intellect does stagger, but is not 
overthrown. As a consideration of 
the various passages included in each 
of these divisions would necessitate 
a long analysis of the text, I shall 
merely quote some strikingly illus¬ 
trative incidents in reference to 
phases 2 and 3. In exemplification 
of phase 2 we may observe the follow¬ 
ing: Hamlet’s interview with Polo- 
nius, Act II., Scene 2; his interview 


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HAMLET . 


127 


with Ophelia, Act III., Scene 1; his 
interview with Claudius, Act IV., 
Scene 3 ; and, in an especial manner, 
his conduct before Ophelia, as nar¬ 
rated by her, Act II., Scene 1. The 
most remarkable illustrations of 
phase 3 are to be found in Hamlet’s 
conduct and utterances in Act I., 
Scene 5 (after he has seen his 
“ father’s spirit ”); and in Act III., 
Scene 2, after he has “ caught the 
conscience of the king ” by means of 
the play. 

* * * * 
Again, I may give it as my belief 
that Hamlet had more than one 
object in assuming madness. He 
had two objects: the first, to trap 
Claudius; the second, to vent his 
pessimism. And, with regard to my 
third division, I think that it would 
be as absurd to say that Hamlet was 
mad under such circumstances as I 
cite as it would be to assert that the 


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128 


HAMLET. 


foundation or the superstructure of 
a great edifice was defective because 
that edifice trembled during an earth¬ 
quake, 

* * * * 

For a very long period the Ghost 
in “ Hamlet ” puzzled me very much. 
I could not on any grounds account 
for its appearance. To me it seemed 
absurd that a disembodied spirit 
should “ revisit thus the glimpses of 
the moon.” 

There are, and have been, those 
who regard the Ghost as a masquer¬ 
ading man, a theory, however, which 
will scarcely bear investigation; for, 
while this theory is tenable when 
applied to the opening scenes of 
“ Hamlet,” it is not so when we 
arrive at Act III.,- Scene 4, wherein 
the Ghost is visible to Hamlet, while 
it is invisible to his mother. If the 
Ghost were of the flesh-and-blood 


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HAMLET . 


129 


order, assuredly it would be visible 
to the Queen as well as to Hamlet, 

But, apart from this consideration, 
if we admit the Ghost to be a 
masquerading man, we must likewise 
admit that Shakespeare’s play of 
“ Hamlet ” is broad farce, and not 
tragedy. Which of us is willing to 
do this ? 

Two other theories may, I now 
think, be put forward to explain this 
apparition, viz., 

(1) The Ghost may be taken as the 
combined result of memory and im¬ 
agination, visible to those who knew 
Hamlet’s father in life, and who were 
keenly in sympathy with Hamlet 
himself and with his projects. 

Imagination conjured up the ap¬ 
parition, and memory gave it its 
familiar form. Under this explana¬ 
tion it is easy to understand why the 
Queen did not see the Ghost: she 
being out of sympathy with Hamlet, 

9 


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130 


HAMLET . 


and the Ghost being an imaginary, 
and not an extraneous, form. Keen, 
personal sympathy may be said, in a 
manner, to induce a subtle inter¬ 
change or transference of brain im¬ 
pressions. 

(2) The Ghost may be explained 
on theosophical grounds. Mrs. 
Besant, in a contribution to theo¬ 
sophical literature, adduces a re¬ 
markable instance, which would ap¬ 
pear to fully justify a theosophical 
interpretation of the Ghost in “ Ham¬ 
let.” She writes: 

“ Death means for the astral just 
what it means for the physical body : 
the breaking up of its constituent 
parts, and the dissipation of its mole¬ 
cules. It disintegrates pari passu 
with its physical counterpart, and re¬ 
maining in its neighbourhood , is gene¬ 
rally seen in cemeteries and church¬ 
yards over graves. I here introduce 
the testimony of a very intimate 
friend of mine, and one who was a 


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HAMLET , 


131 

disbeliever in the reality of such 
visions. ... A very dear woman 
friend of hers died suddenly — a 
woman to whom she was, in fact, 
passionately attached — and for weeks 
and weeks after the death of the physical 
body she saw the astral form in the 
air around her.” 

Now, Hamlet, as we know, was 
passionately attached to his father, 
and it is therefore reasonable to con¬ 
clude that the Ghost, dwelling in the 
theosophical Kama-Loka, would com¬ 
municate with Hamlet and his sympa¬ 
thetic friends. 

In spite of the many efforts which 
have been made to degrade Shake¬ 
speare’s most sublime work — the 
play of “ Hamlet ”—I will always 
hold the belief, with a distinguished 
Shakespearian scholar of the present 
day, that “ Hamlet ” is the greatest 
soul-tragedy of modern literature. 


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THE MERRY WIVES OF 
WINDSOR. 


A S Hamlet represents the highest 
intellectual power throughout 
the entire of Shakespeare’s 
plays, so Falstaff, in “ The Merry 
Wives of Windsor,” stands before 
all other Shakespearian humanities 
(Caliban can scarcely be counted as 
a man) as the representative of the 
world fleshly. Indeed, I have always 
regarded Falstaff in this play as the 
balance or counterpoise, in Shake¬ 
speare’s work, of Hamlet. Falstaff 
is the flesh; Hamlet the mind. We 
recognise in these two characters the 

“ Equipoise of Nature, alternating 
The too much and too little. ” 


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THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR. 133 

Falstaff presents the preponder¬ 
ance of fleshly grossness; Hamlet 
the preponderance of the most sub¬ 
lime and refined thought. It may 
be noted, too, that whereas Hamlet 
elevates his position of prince by the 
quality of his morality and intel¬ 
lectuality, Falstaff degrades his very 
humanity by the nature of his 
passions. Hamlet — even among 
scholars and courtiers and soldiers— 
is a paragon, “the observ’d of all 
observers”; while Falstaff—even in 
the tap-room of a country inn—is 
unworthy of associating with the 
plain, middle-class folk whom he 
meets at the Garter. A sordid 
hanger-on at Court, he appears all 
the more unsalutary when he is 
brought amid the scenes of sylvan 
beauty abounding in Windsor neigh¬ 
bourhood, where the pure country 
air is sweet with the breath of tree 
and flower, and musical with the 


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134 THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR. 

songs of many-plumed birds, and the 
drowsy murmuring of streams. And 
what is the chief moral conveyed by 
this play ? It is one for universal 
profit; it touches all grades of 
society; it applies to regality as it 
applies to peasantry. Mistress Page 
sums up this moral sententiously, 
when, addressing herself to the 
second “ merry wife ” — Mistress 
Ford—she says : 

We’ll leave a proof, by that which we will do, 

Wives may be merry , and yet honest too: 

We do not act, that often jest and laugh ; 

’Tis old, but true, Still swine eat all the draff. 

FalstafF is a most suitable character 
upon whom to vent this honest 
merriment; and the merry wives 
know their man when they meet 
him. It is quite true that there are 
some wives of our middle-class exist¬ 
ing who, on receipt of such letters— 
from a man who could give them a 
title—as Sir John Falstaff addresses 


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THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR . 135 


to Mistress Page and Mistress Ford, 
might overstep the bounds of justi¬ 
fiable action. But herein lies the 
usefulness of the lesson which these 
Windsor wives convey. Mark their 
immediate, unhesitating action when 
they compare the letters they have 
received from FalstafF (Act II., 
Scene 1): 

Mrs. Page . Letter for letter, but that the name 
of Page and Ford differs !—To thy great comfort 
• in this mystery of ill opinions, here's the twin- 
brother of thy letter: but let thine inherit first; 
for, I protest, mine never shall I warrant, he 
hath a thousand of these letters, writ with blank 
space for different names—sure more—and these 
are of the second edition. He will print them, 
out of doubt; for he cares not what he puts into 
the press, when he would put us two. . . . Well, 
I will find you twenty lascivious turtles, ere one 
chaste man. 

Mrs. Ford. Why, this is the very same; the 
very hand, the very words. What doth he think 
of us? 

Mrs. Page . Nay, I know not: it makes me 
almost ready to wrangle with mine own honesty. 
I’ll entertain myself like one that I am not ac¬ 
quainted withal; for sure, unless he know some 
stain in me that I know not myself, he would 
never have boarded me in this fury. 

Mrs. Ford. Boarding, call you it ? I’ll be sure 
to keep him above deck. 


*z 


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136 THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR. 

Mrs. Page. So will I. . . . Let’s be revenged 
on him : let’s appoint him a meeting ; give him a 
show of comfort in his suit: and lead him on with 
a fine-baited delay, till he hath pawned his horses 
to mine host of the Garter. 

_ Mrs. Ford. Nay, I will consent to act an y 
villainy against him that may not sully the chari¬ 
ness of our honesty. O, that my husband saw 
his letter ! it would give eternal food to his 
jealousy. 

Mrs. Page. Why, look, where he comes; and 
my good man too : hds as far from jealousy as I 
am from giving him cause ; and that> I hope , is an 
unmeasurable distance. 

Mrs. Ford. You are the happier woman. 

Mrs. Page. Let’s consult together against this 
greasy knight. 

Independent, however, of this de¬ 
termination on the part of the merry 
wives to fool the greasy knight, we 
see Sir John—Court wit though he 
be—outwitted and belittled even by 
his followers, Pistol and Nym. In 
Act I., Scene 3, we read: 

Fal. (to Pistol and Nym). My honest lads, I 
will tell you what I am about. 

Pist. Two yards, and more. 

Fal. No quips now, Pistol; indeed, I am in the 
waist two yards about; but I am now about no 
waste, I am about thrift. Briefly, I do mean to 
make love to Ford’s wife. I spy entertainment in 
her. . . . I can construe the action of her familiar 


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THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR. 137 


style 5 and the hardest voice of her behaviour, to 
be Englished rightly, is, “ I am Sir John Fal- 
stafPs.” 

Pist. He hath studied her well, and translated 
her well—out of honesty into English. 

Nym. The anchor is deep: will that humour 
pass? 

Fal. Now, the report goes, she has all the rule 
of her husband’s purse — he hath a legion of 
angels. 

Pist. As many devils entertain: and “To her, 
boy,” say I. 

Nym. The humour rises ; it is good : humour 
me the angels. 

Fal. I have writ me here a letter to her : and 
here another to Page’s wife . . . she bears the 
purse too. ... I will be cheaters to them both, 
and they shall be exchequers to me. . . . Go, 
bear thou this letter to Mistress Page; and thou 
this to Mistress Ford. We will thrive, lads, we 
will thrive. 

Pist. Shall I Sir Pandarus of Troy become, and 
by my side wear steel ? then, Lucifer take all ! 

Nym. I will run no base humour: here, take 
the humour-letter. I will keep the haviour of 
reputation. 

Fal. (to Robin his Page). Hold, sirrah, bear you 
these letters tightly; 

Sail like my pinnace to the golden shores.— 
Rogues, hence ! (to Pistol and Nym) avaunt! 

vanish like hailstones, go ; v 
Trudge, plod away o’ the hoof; seek shelter, pack ! 
Falstafif will leam the humour of the age, 

French thrift, you rogues; myself, and skirted 
page. ' [ Exeunt Falstaff and Robin. 

Pist. Tester I’ll have in pouch when thou shalt 
lack, 

Base Phrygian Turk. 


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138 THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR . 


Nym. I have operations in my head which be 
humours of revenge. 

Pist. Wilt thou revenge ? 

Nym. By welkin, and her star. 

Pist, With wit, or steel ? 

Nym. With both the humours, I: I will discuss 
the humour of this love to Page. 

Pist. And I to Ford shall eke unfold 
How Falstaff, varlet vile, 

His dove will prove, his gold will hold. 
And his soft couch defile. 

Nym. My humour shall not cool: I will in¬ 
cense Page to deal with poison; I will possess 
him with yellowness: for this revolt of mine is 
dangerous ; that is my true humour. 

Pist. Thou art the Mars of malcontents: I 
second thee; troop on. [ Exeunt. 

Then in Act II., Scene i, we hear 
these two indignant followers telling 
Ford and Page of Falstaff s designs, 
and thus completing a second trap 
for Sir John. In times gone by there 
was a prevalent impression—and one 
which has not yet by any means died 
out — to the effect that any man, 
however uncomely or ungracious, 
belonging to the elevated grades of 
society could use as he willed the 
wives of the middle and peasant 


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THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR. 139 

classes; and in the demonstration 
not only of the falsity of such an im¬ 
pression, but more of the egregious 
fools that so-called better-class men 
may make of themselves in pursuing 
this hallucination, Shakespeare con¬ 
veys the moral which I conceive to 
be of secondary prominence in this 
play. The whole play of “ The 
Merry Wives of Windsor” is truly 
light and merry; and as we watch 
the progress of its slight plot, 
these two morals that I have noted 
are impressed upon us with an 
altogether agreeable imperceptible¬ 
ness. Our risibility is stirred, and 
while we laugh the lessons are con¬ 
veyed. 

The characters in the play are, 
every one, interesting and entertain¬ 
ing. Fenton and “ sweet Anne 
Page ” are charming young people; 
while among the remaining person¬ 
alities we may single out Parson 


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140 THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR . 


Hugh Evans, with his Welsh dia¬ 
lect, and Doctor Caius, with his 
broken English, as pre - eminently 
entertaining studies of eccentric 
character. 




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AS YOU LIKE IT. 


L OVE your neighbour as you 
love yourself, and love God 
above all else. This is the 
great lesson which Shakespeare 
teaches us ; it is the dominant teach¬ 
ing of all his plays. True it is that 
Shakespeare portrays the crime and 
passion of mankind in colours most 
realistic; but, unlike many another 
poet, dramatist, or novelist, he por¬ 
trays these things only that he may 
show their noxious qualities, and 
that he may bring before our mind- 
eyes all the more vividly, by con¬ 
trast, the beauties and the charms of 
virtue. He is never found like, for 
instance, Swift, who revelled in 


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142 


AS YOU LIKE IT. 


bestiality for its own sake. Further¬ 
more, while thus instructing us, 
Shakespeare does not seem to us a 
preacher; while good invariably 
triumphs over evil, we are so fascin¬ 
ated by the manner in which we are 
given the instruction, in the true re¬ 
ligious spirit, that we are unconscious 
of its conveyance until it is conveyed. 
We may be shown the pride and 
passions of men as they exhaust 
themselves in fiendish revelry, but, 
withal, and over all else, we are 
shown the sublimity of virtue in 
pictures that, once they impress, im¬ 
press for all time. “As You Like 
It ” is one of the sweetest of Shake¬ 
speare’s plays. It grieves me much 
to see Shakespeare’s plays enacted 
on the stage; it destroys my pre¬ 
conceived ideals of what his char¬ 
acters and his scenes should be; and 
this remark applies in an especial 
manner to “ As You Like It.” This 


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AS YOU LIKE IT. 


143 


play would be much better never 
enacted. I think that anyone who is 
endowed with even a soupfon of im¬ 
aginativeness can enjoy “As You 
Like It ” far more by perusing it, 
either in the quiet seclusion of the 
study, or in some sequestered spot 
“ under the greenwood tree,” than 
he can by seeing the necessarily 
burlesqued representation of Nature 
which he may behold upon the stage. 
If it is at all desirable to give perform¬ 
ances of this charming play, I think 
that it should be enacted in the open 
country air, “ that one great flower 
drawn round, about, over, and en¬ 
closing us, like Aphrodite’s arms, as 
if the dome of the sky were a bell- 
flower drooping down over us, and 
the magical essence of it filling all 
the room of the earth.” Yes, in the 
open country air let it be presented, 
in some cool, shadowy summer 
forest, where the yellow - beaked 


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'3 


144 AS YOU LIKE IT. 

thrushes sing their richest melodies, 
where the blue-bells nestle, and the 
thistle wears its downy crown. 
When Shakespeare brings us to the 
forest of Arden he leads us over en¬ 
chanted ground, and he introduces 
us to the most charming group of all 
his characters. Oh! I am sore at 
heart that I should have ever wit¬ 
nessed “ As You Like it ” on the 
stage! For, every time that I think 
of bright, tender, womanly Rosalind, 
and Jaques the melancholy, and 
Orlando, the beautiful of mind and 
body; and when I picture in my 
mind the natural beauty of the forest, 
with its stately heights of lofty shade, 
its cool retreats, its rippling, pellucid 
streams, its thousand soft musical 
murmurings of birds, of leaf, and 
brook —then there starts up a vision 
of puppet-like actors and actresses, 
and of a far from natural forest 
scene ; and I reproach myself bitterly 


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AS YOU LIKE IT. 


145 


with having been unsatisfied with my 
own conception of “ As You Like It.” 
The chief lesson taught by “ As You 
Like It ” is this: that it is more 
noble to forgive than to revenge, and 
that he who repents a wrong in so 
doing shows himself both wise and 
manly; while its main theme is the 
transformation of man's unrighteous 
hate for man into love, by means of 
man’s philanthropy in one instance, 
and by means of God’s love working 
in man in the other. In the case of 
Oliver’s hate and Orlando’s philan¬ 
thropy; here is the masterly manner 
in which Shakespeare brings about 
the reconciliation between the es¬ 
tranged brothers: 

OH. (to Rosalind and Celia). When last the 
young Orlandd parted from you, 

He left a promise to return again 

Within an hour ; and, pacing through the forest, 

Chewing the food of sweet and bitter fancy, 

Lo, what befell! he threw his eye aside, 

And, mark, what object did present itself? 

Under an old oak, whose boughs were moss’d with 
age, 

10 


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146 


AS YOU LIKE IT. 


And high top bald with dry antiquity, 

A wretched ragged man, o’ergrown with hair, 

Lay sleeping on his back : about his neck 
A green ana gilded snake had wreathed itself, 
Who with her head, nimble in threats, approach’d 
The opening of his mouth; but suddenly, 

Seeing Orlando, it unlink’d itself, 

And with indented glides did slip away 
Into a bush; under which bush’s shade 
A lioness, with udders all drawn dry, 

Lay couching, head on ground, with catlike watch. 
When that the sleeping man should stir ; for ’tis 
The royal disposition of that beast 
To prey on nothing that doth seem as dead. 

This seen, Orlando did approach the man, 

And found it was his brother, his elder brother. 
Cel. O ! I have heard him speak of that same 
brother; 

And he did render him the most unnatural 
That liv’d ’mongst men. 

•Oli. And well he might so do, 

For well I know he was unnatural. 

Ros. But', to Orlando. —Did he leave him there, 
Food to the suck’d and hungry lioness ? 

Oli. Twice did he turn his back, and purpos’d 
so; 

But kindness, nobler ever than revenge, 

And nature, stronger than his just occasion. 

Made him give battle to the lioness, 

Who quickly fell before him : in which hurtling 
From miserable slumber I awak’d. 

Cel. Are you his brother ? 

Ros. Was it you he rescued ? 

Cel. Was’t you that did so oft contrive to kill 
him ? 

Oli. ’Twas I; but ’tis not I. I do not shame 
To tell you what I was, since my conversion 
So sweetly tastes, being the thing I am. 


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AS YOU LIKE IT. 


M7 


Ros. But, for the bloody napkin ? 

OIL By*and-by. 

When from the first to last, betwixt us two, 

Tears our recountments had most kindly bath’d. 
As, how I came into that desert place: — 

In brief, he led me to the gentle duke, 

Who gave me fresh array, and entertainment. 
Committing me unto my brother’s love: 

Who led me instantly unto his cave, 

There stripp’d himself; and here, upon his arm, 
The lioness had tom some flesh away 
Which all this while had bled ; and now he 
fainted. 

So is red-hot hatred turned to love 
by man’s self - annihilating philan¬ 
thropy. I may remark, par paren - 
these , that this method of showing 
man’s love, or friendship, or philan¬ 
thropy has frequently been used in 
fiction, and this, too, by leading 
fictionists. It speaks highly for 
Shakespeare that other great minds 
should conceive and use a similar 
method for a like end. One notable 
and skilful conception of an almost 
identical kind is the tigress episode 
in Ouida’s “ Strathmore,” having 
reference to the friendship existing 


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148 


AS YOU LIKE IT. 


between Strathmore himself and 
Bertie Errol. My readers will doubt¬ 
less remember the incident, and will, 
I dare state, recall many homogene¬ 
ous occurrences in fiction without 
my aid. Now, with reference to the 
enmity existing between Frederick 
(the Usurper) and his brother, the 
banished duke, living in the forest of 
Arden, this is how they are recon¬ 
ciled, and how hate is replaced by 
love, by means of God’s love working 
in man: 

Enter Jaques de Bois. 

Jaq. de B. Let me have audience for a word or 
two. 

I am the second son of old Sir Rowland, 

That bring these tidings to this fair assembly.—? 
Duke Frederick, hearing how that every day 
Men of great worth resorted to this forest, 
Addressed a mighty power, which were on foot 
In his own conduct, purposely to take 
His brother here, and put him to the sword. 

And to the skirts of this wild wood he came, 
Where, meeting with an old religious man, 

After some question with him, was converted 
Both from his enterprise and from the world; 

His crown bequeathing to his banished brother, 
And all their lands restored to them again, 

That were with him exil’d. This to be true 
I do engage my life. 


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AS YOU LIKE IT. 


149 


What an ennobling lesson is here 
conveyed! 

So much for the main instruction 
of the play—of course it contains 
many minor morals. Now, as to its 
. characters. I think that the “ melan¬ 
choly Jaques” is the most remark¬ 
able individuality in the pages of 
“As You Like It,” all the more re¬ 
markable, too, by contrast, especially 
with the cheerful, healthful Orlando, 
and with the “ heavenly Rosalind.” 
Notwithstanding all that has been 
written to the contrary, I hold that 
Jaques is a character as true to 
nature as could well be drawn ; true 
even in every minutest detail of de¬ 
lineation. He is a man satisfied 
even to loathing with the so-called 
pleasures of life; he is weary with 
men and things. 

By . . . surfeiting 
The appetite may sicken, and so die. 

Thus is it with Jaques. The 


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AS YOU LIKE IT. 


150 

following lines spoken by the Duke 
to Jaques throw a very flood of 
light upon the character of the man ; 

Duke S. For thou thyself hast been a libertine, 
As sensual as the brutish sting itself; 

And all the embossed sores, and headed evils, 

That thou with license of free foot hast caught, 
Wouldst thou disgorge into the general world. 


Jaques is a world - made cynic, 
and he has grown not a little stoical 
as well. I cannot agree with Mr. 
Andrew Lang when he says that it 
would be natural for Jaques to fall 
in love with Rosalind. Here is Mr. 
Lang’s argument upon this point: 

“Is it not plain that Rosalind’s 
eyes would have scorched up all 
Jaques’ philosophy ? Is this not 
the very woman in whom the weary 
find their rest, and the doubting their 
answer, and the sad that gaiety 
which is so dear to them, and which 
can never be their own ? . . . 
This fancy that Jaques not only 
would, but in the nature of things 


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must, have loved Rosalind, is so 
obvious that it seems strange George 
Sand should have missed it in her 
courageous attempt to improve ‘As 
You Like It ’—Comme il vous plaira. 
In that work Jaques loses his heart 
to Celia. . . . That is how George 
Sand arranges it, and how wrongly ! 
Men like Jaques do not love thus, 
nor in this manner woo; nor is it a 
woman like the sweet, loyal, kindly 
Celia that attracts them. It is in 
Rosalind that they find all which is 
not their own, all that they have let 
go by them—the youth that they 
would not enjoy, the heart, the 
spring, the mirth, the courage of 
existence. These they find in Rosa¬ 
lind, and hopelessly desire, and know 
that they can never possess.” 

I have often wondered why George 
Sand (endowed with extraordinary 
psychological insight) should have 
permitted Jaques to love Celia; I 
think that in doing so she was dis¬ 
cordant with nature. At the same 
time, it would be equally discordant 


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152 


AS YOU LIKE IT . 


with nature to allow this cynic to 
lose his heart to Rosalind. Shake¬ 
speare was too much of an artist to 
allow this. I doubt not he drew 
Jaques from the “ living model,” and 
that he recognised that such a man 
as this was altogether beyond losing 
his heart to any woman. For was 
not Jaques satiated and surfeited 
with woman’s charms as with all 
other pleasures of the world ? Such 
a man could well repeat with Ham¬ 
let : 

Man delights not me ; 

No, nor woman neither. 

Therefore I contend that Shake¬ 
speare would not have been true to 
life if he had permitted Jaques to be 
smitten by the charms of either 
Rosalind or Celia ; or, indeed, of any 
other woman. As to Jaques’ phil¬ 
osophy—it is truly characteristic of 
the individual. What could be more 
so (to take a leading instance) than 


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AS YOU LIKE IT. 


153 


his wretched picture of life—a picture 
which is the outcome of a mind so 
diseased that it can only see the 
dark and worst side of human exist¬ 
ence ? 

At first, the infant, 

Muling and puking in the nurse’s arms, 

Then, the whining schoolboy, with his satchel, 
And shining morning face, creeping like snail 
Unwillingly to school. And then, the lover, 
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad 
Made to his mistress’ eyebrows. Then, a soldier, 
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, 
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, 
Seeking the bubble reputation 
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice 
In fair round belly, with good capon lin’d, 

With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut, 

Full of wise saws and modern instances ; 

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts 
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon, 

With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side ; 

His youthful hose well sav’d, a world too wide 
For his shrunk shank ; and his big manly voice, 
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes 
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, 

That ends this strange eventful history, 

Is second childishness, and mere oblivion ; 

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything. 

Mr. Grant White finds that Jaques 
is akin to Touchstone. But really I 
cannot find one homogeneous char- 


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154 


AS YOU LIKE IT. 


acter-trait between them. Touch¬ 
stone is a tender-hearted, quaint, 
wise, altogether charming clown—the 
best fool, I should say, throughout 
the entire of Shakespeare’s plays. 
Orlando carries with him the fresh, 
reviving breath of all that is capti¬ 
vating in youth and beauty. Of him 
it is that Miss Bailie, I think, writes, 
“It is impossible to read the part 
without being in love with Orlando.” 
He is loving and beautiful, and he 
combines the sweet gentleness of a 
woman’s nature with all the valour 
and nobility of true manhood. Even 
his jealous brother, Oliver, admits 
that “ he’s gentle; never schooled, 
and yet learned ; full of noble de¬ 
vice ; of all sorts enchantingly be¬ 
loved, and much in the heart of the 
world.” Rosalind is the heroine of 
all Shakespearian heroines. Bright, 
gay, lively, enchanting in her merri¬ 
ment, she has yet beneath all (as 


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AS YOU LIKE IT. 


155 


undercurrent in her nature) an 
earnestness, a sensibility, and a true 
and lasting affection which draw us 
magnetically towards her, and make 
us love her whether we will or no. 
What a delightful type of old age 
44 old Adam ” is ! He is a touching 
picture of loving faithfulness, and of 
the sweetness of declining years, 
when youth has been well and 
honourably spent. 

* * * * 
Altogether, I am of opinion that 
Professor Dowden was fully justified 
in calling 44 As You Like It ” 44 the 
sweetest and happiest of Shake¬ 
speare’s comedies.” 


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KING HENRY VIII . 


T HE uncertainty of all earthly 
Fortune; and the Hope of 
Heaven—Heaven as the only 
sure haven in which man may cast 
the anchor of Hope: these are the 
two leading Truths which Shake¬ 
speare sets before us in “ King 
Henry VIII.” Before examining his 
method of so doing, however, it may 
be noted that Shakespeare never 
took up a historical subject for 
treatment in his plays simply because 
it was a historical subject. He 
took it rather as an attractive means 
for the conveyance of some particular 
Truth or Truths of human Life, con¬ 
templation upon which Truth or 



KING HENRY VIII . 


157 


Truths would ennoble all who might 
so contemplate and raise their ideals 
beyond the evanescent things of the 
world worldly. It has been truly 
said that Poetry is greater than 
History. True is it, also, that when¬ 
ever Shakespeare made use of history 
as a means for the poetic conveyance 
of Truth, he elevated history to 
Poetry’s level, and in so doing he 
rendered undying many a historic 
episode which might otherwise lie in 
an unremembered past. Now, with 
regard to the two leading Truths 
that are brought before us in “ King 
Henry VIII.,” it may be remarked 
that they are so unmistakably con¬ 
veyed that we cannot miss them—in 
such a manner, in fact, that he who 
runs may read. For my part, when¬ 
ever I recall the central conception 
of “ King Henry VIII.,” I see, with 
my mind-eyes, emblazoned across 
the little sphere of man, “ Vanitas 


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KING HENRY VIII . 


I S 8 

Vanitatum and side by side with 
this I see the finger of Hope point¬ 
ing to a time when 

There shall be no more pain nor sorrow, 

For God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. 

How does Shakespeare show us 
the instability of earthly Fortune ? 
By giving us striking individual in¬ 
stances of Fortune giving to and 
taking from man; now gladdening, 
now sorrowing his heart; now en¬ 
riching him, in the worldly sense, 
and now impoverishing him. We 
look out upon the troubled sea of 
Fortune, we see a human being rise 
and fall, but withal carried along 
upon its rolling waves. We see the 
helpless form borne nearer and 
nearer to us where we stand upon 
the shore. Then, at last, a great 
wave breaks upon the rocks with 
crash terrific, and over all the tur¬ 
moil of the waste we hear the cry of 


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KING HENRY VIII. 


*59 


the Fortune-baffled humanity. Yes, 
the wave has broken—so has that 
human heart; and as we listen, in 
the instantaneous lull, a voice cries 
to us: “ There is nothing true save 
Heaven.” In " King Henry VIII.” 
Shakespeare first of all shows us the 
Duke of Buckingham high upon 
Fortune’s wave; and then we see 
him wrecked — wrecked upon the 
rock of Wolsey’s jealousy and malice. 
Buckingham, in his last speech 
(Act II., Scene i), tells his own 
story : 


When I came hither, I was Lord High Constable, 
And Duke of Buckingham; now, poor Edward 
Bohun: 

Yet I am richer than my base accusers, 

That never knew what truth meant: I now seal 
it; 

And with that blood will make them one day 
groan for’t. 

My noble father, Henry of Buckingham, 

Who first raised head against usurping Richard, 
Flying for succour to his servant Banister, 

Being distressed, was by that wretch betrayed, 
And, without trial, fell: God’s peace be with 
him ! 


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i6o 


KING HENRY VIII. 


Henry the Seventh succeeding, truly pitying 
My father’s loss, like a most royal pnnce, 

Restored me to mine honours, and, out of ruins, 
Made my name once more noble. 

Now, his son 

Henry the Eighth, life, honour, name, and all 
That made me happy, at one stroke has taken 
For ever from the world. 

*••••* 

Thus far we are one in fortunes,—both 
Fell by our servants, by those men we loved 
most: 

A most unnatural and faithless service. 

Heaven has an end in all . 

****** 

All good people, 

Pray for me! I must now forsake ye: the last 
hour 

Of my long, weary life is come upon me. 

Farewell: 

And when you would say something that is sad, 
Speak how I fell—I have done ; and God forgive 
me! 

Thus—in Buckingham’s rise and 
fall, and in his last words—we are 
impressed, initially, by the two domi¬ 
nant Truths of “ King Henry VIII.,” 
viz., the uncertainty of earthly for¬ 
tune, and the hope of Heaven— 
Heaven as the only sure haven in 
which man may cast the anchor of 


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KING HENRY VIII. 


161 


Hope. Next we see Queen Katharine 
high in Fortune’s favour; then we 
pitifully watch her unjust trial and 
her downfall; and ere she passes 
from our aching vision we see her 
hands outstretched to Heaven, and 
we hear her breathe of the Glory to 
come: 

I have not long to trouble thee.—Good Griffith, 
’Cause the musicians play me that sad note 
I named my knell, whilst I sit meditating 
On that celestial harmony I go to. 

****** 

Saw you not, even now, a blessed troop 
Invite me to a banquet; whose bright faces 
Cast thousand beams upon me, like the sun ? 

They promised me eternal happiness, 

And brought me garlands, Griffith, which I feel 
I am not worthy yet to wear : I shall, 

Assuredly. 

Cardinal Wolsey’s fall is more 
vividly presented than the others, 
and it is in every sense a greater fall. 
He, too, places his trust in Heaven. 
Thus he speaks: 

Farewell 

The hopes of Court! my hopes in Heaven do 
dwell. 


II 


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162 


KING HENRY VIII . 


And, later, Griffith tells us of him 
thus: 

At last, with easy roads, he came to Leicester ; 
Lodged in the Abbey, where the reverend Abbot, 
With all his convent, honourably received him : 

To whom he gave these words, — “ O father 
Abbot, 

An old man, broken with the storms of State, 

Is come to lay his weary bones among ye; 

Give him a little earth for charity !” 

So went to bed, where, eagerly, his sickness 
Pursued him still; and three nights after this,— 
About the hour of eight which he himself 
Foretold should be his last,—full of repentance, 
Continual meditations, tears, and sorrows, 

He gave his honours to the world again. 

His blessed part to Heaven, and slept in peace. 


In minor details throughout the 
play, as will readily be perceived, the 
self-same teachings are apparent. 

* * * * 
While these two Truths that I 
have pointed out are the most sub¬ 
lime teachings of Shakespeare in 
“ King Henry VIII.,” I cannqt over¬ 
look the fact that there is another 
Truth written broadly across this 
play—a Truth upon which it is most 


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KING HENRY VIII. 


163 

necessary that the eyes of our present 
day humanity should, more especi¬ 
ally perhaps than heretofore, be fixed. 
That Truth, simply announced, is 
this: 


All hoods make not monks. 

The most remarkable personality 
throughout this play is Cardinal 
Wolsey; and; with falseness and 
moral rottenness hooded beneath a 
garb of Religion and Truth, he suc¬ 
ceeded in so deceiving Henry, that 
it is not going too far to state that 
he went within a hair’s breadth of 
rendering England subservient to the 
whims of a self-aggrandising Roman 
Consistory—a Consistory that fain 
would have the world believe its pro¬ 
nouncements and its actions Heaven- 
inspired and infallible. This, too, 
notwithstanding its self - enriching 
and world-grabbing ends. Wolsey 
was a crafty devil in a churchman’s 


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164 


KING HENRY VIII. 


habit—a fit instrument for the work 
that was required of him. The 
Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk and 
the Earl of Surrey paint this King - 
Cardinal in true colours, thus : 


Sur. Thou’rt a proud traitor, priest. 

Wol. Proud lord, thou liest: 

Within these forty hours, Surrey durst better 
Have burnt that tongue than said so. 

Sur. Thy ambition, 

Thou scarlet Sin, robbed this bewailing land 
Of noble Buckingham, my father-in-law: 

. . . Plague of your policy ! 

You sent me Deputy for Ireland, 

Far from his succour, from the King, from all 
That might have mercy on the fault thou gav’st 
him, 

Whilst your great goodness, out of holy pity, 
Absolved him with an axe. 

****** 


By my soul, 

Your long coat, priest, protects you ; thou should’st 
feel 

My sword i’ the life-blood of thee else.—My 
lords, 

Can ye endure to hear this arrogance ? 

And from this fellow ? If we live thus tamely, 

To be thus jaded by a piece of scarlet, 

Farewell, nobility; let his grace go forward, 

And dare us with his cap like larks. 

Wol. All goodness 

Is poison to thy stomach. 


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KING HENRY VIII. 165 

Sur. Yes that goodness, 

Of gleaning all the land’s wealth into one, 

Into your own hands, Cardinal, by extortion; 

The goodness of your intercepted packets, 

You writ to the Pope, against the King; your 
goodness, 

Since you provoke me, shall be most notorious.— 
My Lord of Norfolk,—as you are truly noble, 

As you respect the common good, the state 
Of our despised nobility, our issues— 

Who, if he live, will scarce be gentlemen— 
Produce the grand sum of his sins, the articles 
Collected from his life:—I’ll startle you 
Worse than the sacring bell, when the brown 
wench 

Lay kissing in your arms, Lord Cardinal. 

* * * * * * 
Have at you. 

First, that without the King’s assent or know¬ 
ledge 

You wrought to be a Legate : by which power 
You maimed the jurisdiction of all Bishops. 

Nor. Then, that in all you writ to Rome, or 
else 

To foreign princes, Ego et Rex mens 
Was still inscribed; in which you brought the 
King 

To be your servant. 

Suf. Then, that without the knowledge 

Either of Rang or Council, when you went 
Ambassador to the Emperor, you made bold 
To carry into Flanders the Great Seal. 

Sur. Item, you sent a large commission 
To Gregory de Cassado, to conclude, 

Without the King’s will or the State’s allowance, 
A league between his highness and Ferrara. 


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166 


KING HENRY VIII . 


Suf. That, out of mere ambition, you have 
caused 

Your holy hat to be stamped on the King’s coin. 

Sur. Then, that you have sent innumerable 
substances,— 

By what means got, I leave to your own con¬ 
science,— 

To furnish Rome, and to prepare the ways 

You have for dignities ; to the mere undoing 

Of all the Kingdom. 


This was the character of the man 
whose mission it was to spread Truth, 
Justice, and Love among men ; but, 
as we are shown, his “ hood ” made 
him not a “ monk and to-day, I 
regret to write, he is a much-re¬ 
peated prototype. We cannot pity 
Wolsey in his fall. We can feel 
sorrow for Buckingham; we can 
weep with Katharine; but, despite 
all promptings of charitable feeling, 
we are forced to admit that if we 
saw Wolsey falling from the highest 
rung of Fortune’s ladder to the 
depths of a place more black than 
fabulous Hell, we could not let our 


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KING HENRY VIII. 


167 


hearts cry once to Heaven, “ O, 
Mercy!” Even in his lg.st speech 
Wolsey is a hypocrite. He says: 

O, Cromwell, Cromwell! 
Had I but served my God with half the zeal 
I served my King, He would not in mine age 
Have left me naked to mine enemies. 

But did he serve his King ? 
Assuredly not. He served Rome and 
himself, which, as it happened, were 
neither God nor King. 

* * * * 

I may remark that Cranmer’s 
prophecy, at the conclusion of 
“ King Henry VIII.,” with regard to 
Queen Elizabeth’s time, is particu¬ 
larly noteworthy. It says that: 

In her days every man shall eat in safety, 

Under his own vine, what he plants; and sing 
The merry songs of peace to all his neighbours. 
God shall be truly known ; and those about her 
From her shall read the perfect ways of hondur, 
And by those claim their greatness, not by blood. 

But I would ask, Were these things 
so then ? have they been so since ? 


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168 


KING HENRY VIII. 


are they so now ? Alas! we must 
answer, “No.” And, with regard 
to the future, will these things ever 
be ? Perhaps they may. Let us 
hope so. 



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JULIUS CAESAR. 


M atthew Arnold, in one 

of his Letters (collected and 
arranged by George W. E. 
Russell: Macmillan), very accurately 
indicates the relative characteristics 
of three of the very highest of nine¬ 
teenth-century bards, namely, Brown¬ 
ing, Tennyson, and himself. Brown¬ 
ing, he indicates, transcends in 
“ intellectual vigour and abundance”; 
Tennyson excels in a quality not so 
great as this, i.e., in “ poetical senti¬ 
ment while of himself he says, “ I 
have, perhaps, more of a fusion of 
the two [qualities] than either of 
them, and have more regularly ap- 


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170 JULIUS CJESAR 

plied that fusion to the main line of 
modern development.” Arnold in 
this letter suggests that in the quality 
of thought he is inferior to Brown¬ 
ing, that in the quality of sentiment 
he is inferior to Tennyson, while in 
the counterpoise of these two he is 
superior to both. This private ex¬ 
pression of opinion or conviction as 
to the relative value of three masters 
of their art has moved me to the 
thought that no matter what poets we 
compare with William Shakespeare, 
we will find that Shakespeare tran¬ 
scends all their excellencies, sur¬ 
passes them all on their own ground, 
by reason of his possession of that 
omnipotent imaginativeness, that all- 
embracing vision, which enabled 
him to realize every phase of human 
thought and feeling, and to pass from 
the sphere of things human to a com¬ 
prehension of things either diabolical 
or divine. 


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JULIUS CMSAR 


171 

When Learning’s triumph o’er her barb’rous foes 
First reared the Stage, immortal Shakespeare 
rose; 

Each change of many-colour’d life he drew, 
Exhausted worlds, and then imagin’d new : 
Existence saw him spurn her bounded reign, 

And panting Time toil’d after him in vain : 

His pow’rful strokes presiding Truth confess’d, 

And unresisted Passion storm’d the breast. 

But to glide from the general to 
the particular. The object of this 
paper is a consideration of the ethical 
value of Shakespeare’s tragedy of 
“Julius Caesar,” a consideration of 
the broad moral lessons which the 
play seems to convey. 

Even as I believe the highest lesson 
of “ Romeo and Juliet ” to be this, 
that Out of Evil cometh Good , so also 
do I believe the highest lesson of 
“ Julius Caesar ” to be that—notwith¬ 
standing the fact that Good often 
grows out of Evil, just as the spotless 
lily springs from the slime of a stream 
—men must never perform evil deeds 
with a view to producing good re¬ 
sults. In other words, the play of 


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172 


JULIUS CJESAR 


“Julius Caesar” primarily tells us 
that men may never, with impunity, 
attempt to interfere with the ways of 
Providence; may never, without con¬ 
sequent punishment, deliberately seek 
to bring about that which only the 
infinite God can accomplish—the 
evolution of Good from Evil. 

“ Julius Caesar ” is pre-eminently a 
tragedy of the destiny of nations. 
As in others of Shakespeare’s plays 
we watch the weal and woe of indi¬ 
viduals, so here we observe, above the 
single fate of persons, the national 
destiny which grows from individual 
deed. 

In “ Julius Caesar ” we behold 
Rome some half a century before the 
Christian Era; Caesar is dictator; 
and in the minds of the people there 
is a struggle taking place between 
the opposing claims of royalty and 
republicanism. In the first Scene 
of Act I.—during Caesar’s triumphal 


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JULIUS CMSAR 


173 


procession through Rome, in cele¬ 
bration of his victory in the battle of 
Munda—we are given indication of 
the people’s attitude in what takes 
place between the two Tribunes (Fla¬ 
vius and Marullu's) and the citizens : 

Cit. Indeed, sir, we make holiday to see Caesar, 
and to rejoice in his triumph. 

Mar. Wherefore rejoice ? What conquest brings 
he home ? 

What tributaries follow him to Rome, 

To grace in captive bonds his chariot wheels? 

You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless 
things ! 

O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome, 

Knew you not Pompey ? Many a time and oft 
Have you climb’d up to walls and battlements, 

To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops, 
Your infants in your arms, and there have sat 
The livelong day, with patient expectation, 

To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome: 
And when you saw his chariot but appear, 

Have you not made an universal shout, 

That Tiber trembled underneath her banks, 

To hear the replication of your sounds 
Made in her concave shores ? 

And do you now put on your best attire ? 

And do you now cull out a holiday ? 

And do you now strew flowers in his way, 

That comes in triumph over Pompey’s blood ? 

Be gone! 

Run to your houses, fall upon your knees, 

Pray to the gods to intermit the plague 
That needs must light on this ingratitude. 


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174 JULIUS CMSAR 

Flav. Go, go, good countrymen, and for this 
fault 

Assemble all the poor men of your sort: 

Draw them to Tiber banks, and weep your tears 
Into the channel, till the lowest stream 
Do kiss the most exalted shores of all. 

[Exeunt Citizens . 

See, whe’r their basest metal be not mov’d: 

They vanish tongue-tied in their guiltiness. 

Go you down that way towards the Capitol: 

This way will I. Disrobe the images, 

If you do find them deck’d with ceremonies. 

Mar. May we do so ? 

You know, it is the feast of Lupercal. 

Flav. It is no matter; let no images 
Be hung with Caesar’s trophies. I’ll about, 

And drive away the vulgar from the streets: 

So do you too, where you perceive them thick. 
These growing feathers pluck’d from Caesar’s wing 
Will make him fly an ordinary pitch ; 

Who else would soar above the view of men, 

And keep us all in servile fearfulness. [ Exeunt . 


While the minds of the populace 
are wavering, while Caesar is yearn¬ 
ing for, yet fearful of wearing, the 
crown, conspiracy is in the air. This 
brings us to Brutus, who, I take it, 
is the chief individuality selected by 
Shakespeare for the conveyance of 
the great moral tuition of the play, 
already alluded to. 


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JULIUS CMSAR 175 

Brutus is at first tempted by 
Cassius (Act I., Scene 2), who, posing 
as the “ glass ” of Brutus, offers 
to “ discover unto himself, that of 
himself which yet he knows not of”; 
and the poisonous speech of Cassius 
does its work rapidly, as we may per¬ 
ceive in Act II., Scene 1: 

Bru. It must be by his death: and, for my 
part, 

I know no personal cause to spurn at him, 

But for the general. He would be crown’d :— 
How that might change his nature, there’s the 
question. 

It is the bright day that brings forth the adder; 
And that craves wary walking. Crown him !— 
that! 

And then, I grant, we put a sting in him, 

That at his will he may do danger with. 

The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins 
Remorse from power: and, . to speak truth of 
Caesar, 

I have not known when his affections sway’d 
More than his reason. But ’tis a common proof, 
That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder, 

Whereto the climber-upward turns his face; 

But when he once attains the upmost round, 

He then unto the ladder turns his back, 

Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees 
By which he did ascend. So Caesar may : 

Then, lest he may, prevent. And, since the 
quarrel 

Will bear no colour for the thing he is, 


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176 


JULIUS CJESAR 


Fashion it thus; that what he is, augmented, 
Would run to these and these extremities ; 

And therefore think him as a serpent’s egg, 
Which, hatch’d, would as his kind grow mis¬ 
chievous, 

And kill him in the shell. 

* * * . * * * 

Since Cassius first did whet me against Caesar, 

I have not slept. 

Between the acting of a dreadful thing 
And the first motion, all the interim is 
Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream: 

The genius and the mortal instruments 
Are then in council; and the state of a man, 

Like to a little kingdom, suffers then 
The nature of an insurrection. 


Here we have Brutus in the coils 
of Temptation : there is a war within 
him between his soul (“ the genius ”) 
and his lower nature (“ the mortal 
instruments”). What is the char¬ 
acter of Brutus ? It is a character 
well fitted for proving the great truth 
which Shakespeare teaches. Cassius 
truthfully tells the nature of Brutus 
when he says: 


Well, Brutus, thou art noble ; yet I see 
Thy honourable metal may be wrought 
From that it is disposed. 


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JULIUS CMSAR 


177 


Brutus is an honourable and a 
noble man, and the reasons for his 
succumbing to temptation are, be¬ 
cause he has no insight into human 
nature, or into the lessons of events, 
because his personal vanity leaves 
him an easy prey to the seductions 
of flattery, and because through these 
weaknesses he misjudges the nature 
of action necessary to be taken in 
order to accomplish the desirable and 
honourable ends which he has in 
view. 

In other words, Brutus, in con¬ 
senting to the conspiracy to assas¬ 
sinate Caesar, attempts the forbidden 
task of doing Evil in order that Good 
may result therefrom. 

And henceforward we are shown 
vividly how Retribution dogs his 
steps even down to death. Of the 
honesty of intention which actuated 
Brutus we are everywhere given 
proof. While the other conspirators 

12 


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JULIUS CMSAR 


are led on by jealousy, he is prompted 
by his anxiety for the public good, 
and thus is Shakespeare’s lesson (a 
lesson for politicians of all countries) 
made more prominent through Bru¬ 
tus. Immediately after the murder 
of Caesar we find him saying: 

Though now we must appear bloody and cruel, 

As, by our hands, and this our present act, 

You see we do, yet see you but our hands, 

And this, the bleeding business they have done : 
Our hearts you see not; they are pitiful; 

And pity to the general wrong of Rome 
(As fire drives out fire, so pity pity) 

Hath done this deed on Caesar. 

Here, as elsewhere, and especially 
in Scene 2 of the third Act, we are 
convinced of Brutus’ rectitude of 
purpose. This is how he speaks to 
his countrymen: 

If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend 
of Caesar’s, to him I say that Brutus’ love to Caesar 
was no less than his. If, then, that friend demand, 
why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: 
— Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved 
Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living, 
and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to 
live all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep 
for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as 


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JULIUS CAESAR 


179 


he was valiant, I honour him ; but, as he was am¬ 
bitious, I slew him. There is tears for his love ; 
joy for his fortune ; honour for his valour; and 
death for his ambition. Who is here so base, that 
would be a bondman ? If any, speak ; for him 
have I offended. Who is here so rude, that would 
not be a Roman ? If any, speak ; for him have I 
offended. Who is here so vile, that will not love 
his country? If any, speak; for him have I 
offended. I pause for a reply. 

All. None, Brutus, none. 

Bru. Then none have I offended. I have done 
no more to Caesar than you shall do to Brutus. 
The question of his death is enrolled in the Capitol: 
his glory not extenuated, wherein he was worthy, 
nor his offences enforced, for which he suffered 
death. 

Enter Antony and others , with Casar*s body. 
Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony : 
who, though he had no hand in his death, shall 
receive the benefit of his dying, a place in the 
commonwealth ; as which of you shall not ? With 
this I depart: that, as I slew my best lover for 
the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for 
myself, when it shall please my country to need 
my death. 

It will be noticed that Brutus is 
only disillusioned with regard to the 
fallacy of his course of action when 
it is too late for him to avert the 
vengeance and death which are over¬ 
taking him as an inevitable result of 
that course of action. 


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180 JULIUS CMSAR 

Here, again, as in many of Shake¬ 
speare’s plays, we have revealed to 
us a deep sense of the value of a true 
friend; for we are driven to the re¬ 
flection that, if Brutus had as adviser 
a true friend, all his false actions 
might have been prevented. 

When Brutus sees the Ghost of 
Caesar (Act IV., Scene 3)—which I 
fancy to be an imaginative projection 
of the conscience of Brutus—he is 
then and thenceforth vaguely aware 
of his errors. Yet his vanity conquers 
him to the last: it is his pride that 
prompts these words: 

Our enemies have beat us to the pit: 

It is more worthy to leap in ourselves, 

Than tarry till they push us. 

And as we behold dying Brutus we 
can realize the great moral of “ Julius 
Caesar,” that it is unlawful and de¬ 
structive to commit acts that are 
evil, even with a view to producing 
good results. 


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JULIUS CJESAR 181 

Before concluding, it may be re¬ 
marked that in Portia we are pre¬ 
sented with one of the many instances 
in Shakespeare of the innocent suffer¬ 
ing with, or for, the guilty; and in 
considering this deep question, 
“ Why do the innocent suffer ?” one 
may look in vain for a more consoling 
answer than that of Him Who came 
out of the Temple to spread the clay 
upon the blind man’s eyes, and pro¬ 
claim to all the world that not for sin 
was sorrow, but that the works of 
God might be manifest in the miser¬ 
able. 

John Ruskin has told us (“ Sesame 
and Lilies,” page 92) that 

“ Shakespeare has no heroes—he 
has only heroines. There is not one 
entirely heroic figure in all his plays, 
except the slight sketch of Henry V., 
exaggerated for the purposes of the 
stage, and the still slighter Valen¬ 
tine in 4 ‘The Two Gentlemen of 
Verona.” In his laboured and per- 


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182 


JULIUS CJESAR 


feet plays you have no hero. Othello 
would have been one, if his simplicity 
had not been so great as to leave 
him the prey of every base practice 
around him; but he is the only ex¬ 
ample even approximating to the 
heroic type.” 

This is an opinion in which I 
cannot concur; for if Brutus is not 
an “ entirely heroic figure,” I do not 
know what an “ entirely heroic 
figure” is. I feel convinced of the 
truth of Antony’s final words over 
the dead body of Brutus, notwith¬ 
standing Brutus’ misjudgments : 

This was the noblest Roman of them all: 

All the conspirators, save only he, 

Did that they did in envy of great Csesar ; 

He only, in a general honest thought 
And common good to all, made one of them. 
His life was gentle ; and the elements 
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up, 
And say to all the world, “ This was a man !” 


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THE TAMING OF THE 
SHREW. 


'T'O some it would appear that 
“ The Taming of the Shrew ” 
might well be taken in these 
days as a peg whereon to hang dis¬ 
courses concerning the New Woman; 
but since I can find no intrinsic 
difference between the ancient and 
the modern woman, I cry “ Con¬ 
tent !” to treating this play as a nail 
on which to hang a few comments 
upon the right position of woman¬ 
hood in all times. 

As a typical instance of the tyran¬ 
nous attitude which has prevailed in 
the past, and which prevails largely 


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184 THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. 

to-day, regarding the position and 
the possibilities of womanhood, I 
take for examination the reasoning 
of a celebrated scientific writer, who 
argues, in common with others, the 
impossibility of the possession of 
genius by women. 

I refer to Professor Caesar Lom- 
broso, the Italian scientist, whose 
pronouncements upon problems of 
heredity and so forth are valuable. 
This physiologist states that, how¬ 
ever much talent women may possess, 
they certainly cannot lay claim, on 
any grounds, to genius . 

He even goes so far as to state 
that woman in her nature presents 
the line of demarcation between 
genius and talent. The highest 
reach of feminine possibility is 
talent; higher and outside of that 
possibility is genius. Now, to my 
mind, argument of this nature is the 
very quintessence of sophistry. Let 


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THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. 185 

us see how Lombroso upholds his 
theory. His arguments are for the 
most part based upon the findings of 
physiology and physiognomy. As a 
matter of fact, genius has its essential 
root in neither the one nor the other, 
however it may secondarily become 
associated with these. 

When Lombroso is confronted 
with women who were geniuses, he 
argues thus: “Yes, they were un¬ 
doubtedly geniuses , but they were not 
women” This point he maintains 
with the somewhat extraordinary 
testimony that most of the great 
women - geniuses — Bonheur, Sand, 
Eliot, and so forth—invariably pos¬ 
sessed some of the attributes of 
virility. 

He evidently ignores the fact that 
the converse proposition is equally 
tenable, namely, that very many 
men - geniuses — Shelley, Milton, 
Byron, Napoleon I., Keats, and so 


186 THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. 

following — possessed in a marked 
degree some of the attributes of 
femineity. 

We may, I think, with security 
state that Sex has nothing to do with 
genius. Genius has no essentially 
physiological or physiognomic as¬ 
pect; its essential aspect is indi¬ 
vidually psychological. Furthermore, 
there is no sex in soul, and from 
these facts one might demonstrate 
the equality of man and woman. 

This leads me to a consideration 
of the moral which I conceive to be 
enshrined in the pages of “ The 
Taming of the Shrew.” I am quite 
assured that Shakespeare never in¬ 
tended in this comedy to suggest, 
much less to prove, the inferiority of 
woman. On the contrary, the play 
proves the equality of the sexes. The 
teaching of the play is this: that 
while shrewishness should be quelled 
and outrooted, womanhood should 


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THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. 187 

not be degraded, but should have 
equality with manhood. 

All through this comedy it must 
be remembered that Petruchio’s self- 
imposed task is not the degrading of 
woman (he never once throughout 
the play attempts to degrade the 
womanhood of Katharina): his task 
is the taming of a shrew , and then 
the admission of woman’s equality. 

How admirably Petruchio suc¬ 
ceeds in taming Katharina is shown 
in Katharina’s final speech: 

Pet. Katharina, I charge thee, tell these head¬ 
strong women 

What duty they do owe their lords and husbands. 
Wid. Come, come, you’re mocking: we will 
have no telling. 

Pet. Come on, I say‘; and first begin with her. 
Wid. She shall not. 

Pet. I say she shall:—and first begin with her. 
Kath. Fie, fie ! unknit that threatening unkind 
brow, 

And dart not scornful glances from those eyes, 

To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor : 

It blots thy beauty, as frosts do bite the meads ; 
Confounds thy fame, as whirlwinds shake fair buds, 
And in no sense is meet, or amiable. 

A woman mov’d is like a fountain troubled, 


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188 THE TAMING OF THE SHREW . 


Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty ; 

And, while it is so, none so dry or thirsty 
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it. 

Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, 

Thy head, thy sovereign ; one that cares for thee, 
And for thy maintenance ; commits his body 
To painful labour, both by sea and land, 

To watch the night in storms, the day in cold, 
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe ; 
And craves no other tribute at thy hands, 

But love, fair looks, and true obedience, 

Too little payment for so great a debt. 

Such duty as the subject owes the prince, 

Even such a woman oweth to her husband ; 

And when she’s froward, peevish, sullen, sour, 
And not obedient to his honest will, 

What is she but a foul contending rebel, 

And graceless traitor to her loving lord ?— 

I am asham’d, that women are so simple 
To offer war, where they should kneel for peace ; 
Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway, 

When they are bound to serve, love, and obey. 
Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth. 
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world, 

But that our soft conditions, and our hearts, 
Should well agree with our external parts ? 

Come, come, you froward and unable worms, 

My mind hath been as big as one of yours, 

My heart as great, my reason, haply, more 
To bandy word for word, and frown for frown ; 
But now I see our lances are but straws, 

Our strength as weak, our weakness past com¬ 
pare,— 

That seeming to be most, which we indeed least are. 
Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot, 

And place your hands below your husband’s foot: 
In token of which duty, if he please. 

My hand is ready ; may it do him ease. 


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THE TAMING OF THE SHREW . 189 


Katharina offers to place her hands 
under her husband’s feet in token 
of submission ; but does Petruchio 
allow her to do this? No; his 
action is altogether different. He 
will allow no degradation of her 
womanhood. He draws her lovingly 
to him, saying tenderly, 44 Come on, 
and kiss me, Kate.” 

In this answer and action of Pe¬ 
truchio I read Shakespeare’s expres¬ 
sion of the equality of the sexes. In 
these words and action of Petruchio 
I find an epitome of the comedy’s 
teaching which might be well summed 
up in Fletcher’s lines (see 4 4 The 
Tamer Tamed”). He writes that 
men 

Should not reign as tyrants o’er their wives: 
Nor can the women from this precedent 
Insult or triumph ; it being aptly meant, 

To teach both sexes due equality, 

And as they stand bound to love mutually. 

Man may not justly be a brabbler 
or a tyrant any more than a woman 


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190 THE TAMING OF THE SHREW . 

may justly be a shrew ; and equality 
and mutual love should prevail. 

It may be said that this is a far¬ 
fetched, transcendental interpreta¬ 
tion of this entertaining and delight¬ 
ful comedy; but in reading Shake¬ 
speare’s works I have always sought 
their most sublime aspect, their 
Higher Teaching. 


THE END. 


Elliot Stock, Paternoster Row, London. 


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The Robert Browning of Ireland.' 


Tastefully printed and bound in cloth, 
3s. 6d. 

P O E A S. 


BY 

LOUIS H. VICTORY. 

The Literary World says :—* Because thought¬ 
fulness is not one of the chief characteristics of 
modern verse, we think it our duty to speak a few 
words of encouragement when we find a writer 
willing and able to provide mental food in the 
shape of stanzas. . . . Some of the lighter verses 
in this book are full of prettiness. * 

The Bristol Mercury says :—‘ Several of the 
sonnets are remarkable. . . . The thoughts are 
striking, and have found expression in chaste, 
forcible, and beautiful language/ 

Mr. Norman Gale, in The Academy\ says :— 
‘ It may be granted at once that Mr. Louis Victory 
has thoughts which deserve to be printed and con¬ 
sidered. So much is certain.’ 


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PRESS OPINIONS— continued. 

Reynolds' Newspaper says:—‘It is certainly a 
pleasure to read these poems, and we trust they 
may become popular.’ 

The English Churchman says :—‘ Compositions 
of high worth and lasting merit. The style is often 
charmingly musical, and the thoughts breathed 
are in many instances singularly beautiful, pure, 
and original.’ 

The Social Review says:—‘We shall content 
ourselves with recommending the book to all 
lovers of the pure, the noble, and the artistic.’ 

The Catholic Times says :—‘ Mr. Victory has, 
by his work, proved himself to be a real poet; 
his treatment of the various subjects being admir¬ 
able and masterly in every detail.* 

The Weekly Irish Tvnes says :—‘ Our readers 
are well acquainted with Mr. Victory’s work, his 
true insight into the metaphysical side of life, and 
his deep-seated faith in the great hereafter ; while 
his lighter poems, touching on Nature generally, 
show keen observation.’ 






LONDON: 


ELLIOT STOCK, 62, Paternoster Row, E.C. 









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